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After Team USA’s Defence for Nike, Sha’Carri Richardson and Athing Mu Flaunting Different Olympic Outfits Resurfaces

Published 04/16/2024, 2:52 PM EDT

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Nike has an assertion that “athletes can choose outfits that match their style and personal preference without sacrificing comfort during the games in Paris.” This statement marked a bold declaration amidst the flurry of online criticism. This discontent surged following Nike’s unveiling of its 2024 Paris Summer Olympics track uniforms for women, where the inclusion of a unitard featuring a daringly high-cut bikini line became a focal point for dissent. Since then, the uproar has only amplified.

Later, Team USA stars like Sha’Carri Richardson and others stepped forward, in support of Nike. But even before their stand, an image from a few days ago resurfaced where top athletes flaunted Nike’s outfits and presented a united front.

Sha’Carri Richardson and track icons showcase Nike’s Paris collection

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A few days back, Sha’Carri Richardson, an esteemed member of Team USA, made a notable choice at a recent Nike event. Instead of the controversial unitard, Richardson showcased Nike’s two-piece set, diverging from the ongoing debate. Recently, the Track & Field Gazette shared a post showcasing five track and field legends, including Germany’s Malaika Mihambo, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, and U. S athletes Athing Mu, Sha’Carri Richardson, and Tatyana McFadden. The post was originally posted by Nike a few days ago on Instagram.

What made this gathering particularly noteworthy was the singular image capturing all five athletes together, exuding happiness, comfort, and energy in anticipation of the Paris event. Yet, it wasn’t just their camaraderie that caught attention; it was the attire they sported, which seemed to hint at Nike’s upcoming release.

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While Nike had not officially unveiled these outfits, it appeared that they were among the rumored 50 options mentioned in a previous statement. Some athletes were seen wearing tank tops with shorts, others paired tank tops with pants, and still, some opted for tank tops with full trousers, hinting at the diversity and versatility of Nike’s designs for the upcoming games in Paris.

This revelation came after athletes publicly voiced their disapproval of the controversial leotard design after it was released on April 11. Former US national 5,000m champion Lauren Fleshman didn’t mince words in her Instagram post, declaring the design unsuitable for competition. She wrote, “Professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance or the mental gymnastics of having every vulnerable piece of your body on display.

She concluded with a strong statement, asserting, “This is not an elite athletic kit for track and field. This is a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports. … Stop making it harder for half the population @nike @teamusa @usatf.”

US long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall expressed her bemusement. She humorously quipped, “Wait for my hoo haa is gonna be out.” Davis-Woodhall’s comment added a touch of levity to the discussion while highlighting the practical concerns and discomforts faced by athletes with ill-suited uniform choices. However, Nike has found support from Woodhall and others with United States Track and Field (USTAF) also clearing the air.

“They’re beautiful”, athletes lend their support to Nike amidst their intense brickbats

Nike has faced backlash for its Olympic uniform design for women, but there seems to be an array of support as well. During Team USA’s media summit on Tuesday, four-time gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross stated o, “I think the overall designs are beautiful, but ultimately I feel like the athletes should be super comfortable so they can go on the track and give their best.” This was a breath of fresh air and a point in Nike’s favor.

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In a similar vein, Davis-Woodhall pointed out how the uniforms are different from what fans saw in the released photos. She said, “It was a picture that [didn’t do] it justice. I saw [the uniforms] today. They’re beautiful, not like the picture.” 

Gabby Thomas, Tokyo Olympics medalist elaborated on how the designs couldn’t be passed without the consultation of the athletes. She said, “At World Championships I remember they had an area where athletes could try stuff on and give their feedback, so athletes were definitely consulted. That’s why I think everyone was a little shocked when they saw the photo, because athletes wouldn’t have signed off on how that looked, but it doesn’t look like that in person.”.

Thomas also noted that she liked competing in briefs and that athletes have the option to wear any uniform they want. Meanwhile, USTAF in a statement explained, “These Team USA track and field uniforms are just two of many options, including 50 unique pieces, that athletes will be able to choose from for the upcoming Olympic Games.” 

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They also elaborated that athlete comfort has been taken into account after due consultation. “USATF is also aware that Nike consulted with athletes throughout the design process to ensure that all athletes are comfortable and that the uniforms are well suited for their respective events.” 

It seems Nike can move on from the controversy caused by its designs for Olympic uniforms, now that athletes themselves have spoken positively about them. But will they get the fans on their side as well?

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Written by:

Maleehah Shakeel

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Maleehah Shakeel is an Olympic Sports writer at EssentiallySports who covers equestrian sports, rodeo, bull riding, and Gymnastics. Maleehah’s stories revolve around various brand endorsement deals of athletes like Jessica Springsteen, Jennifer Gates, and Olivia Dunne. She has written in depth about the brand collaboration between Jessica Springsteen and Tommy Hilfiger.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar