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Paris Olympics: Why Is Sha’Carri Richardson and Team USA Outfit Under Protest by Fans?

Published 04/11/2024, 8:44 PM EDT

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The internet recently dropped a nugget that kept track and field fans engaged with a singular focus: Florence Griffith Joyner’s one-legged track costume. After all, she remains the fastest woman on the earth, a record that has stood since 1988, and there’s science behind how her costume helped her reach the pinnacle of athletic excellence. More precisely, it offered her flexibility and aerodynamic suitability. However, Sha’Carri Richardson, who flaunts Flo-Jo-inspired athletic fashion sense, has fans who are now protesting a costume update, owing to the Paris Olympics and Nike partnership.

In keeping the fanfare glued to the Paris Olympics occasion, Nike has been making power moves. Bringing back normalcy since 2020 when the Olympics was postponed and banking on the Paris Olympics to bolster their market share, Heidi O’Neill, president of consumer, product, and brand at Nike, has announced today that Nike will be looking to make the largest media spend this year.

In effect, they set up three figurines of Sha’Carri Richardson, LeBron James, and Kylian Mbappé at the Nike Air Event in Paris to celebrate its Air Technology. But it also stirred up a situation by not giving similar importance to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the most decorated female track and field athlete.

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Now, things took a different toll when Nike, the official sponsor for the US Olympic track and field contingent for the Paris Olympics 2024, unveiled the costume for both men’s and women’s categories. The costumes remain simple, preferring the fabrics and aerodynamics part: Compression tops and mid-thigh-length shorts for men and one-piece bodysuit costumes for women whose leg sleeves are cut high on the hip. However, fans pointed out some unique problems which couldn’t be ignored. 

As per most of the track and field fans, the costume for female athletes is not so convenient, failing to justify some basic needs like flexibility in movement. With more fans coming in, the X-post made by Citius Mag witnessed a vehement revolt from them regarding the design of the costume. 

Fans rip apart Nike-designed bodysuit costume, 1 flaw at a time 

Things gained a different hype when one fan pointed out several events (long jump, high jump, and hurdle among others) in which an athlete can not compete while donning the one-piece costume. Such aggressive protest was seen online, and yet, Nike has not come out with any statement. However, John Hoke, the chief innovation officer, has confirmed that these two designs are the only ones that Nike will be producing for its Olympic sprinters. It is noteworthy that, apart from the US, Nike has a deal to provide kits to Canada, China, Kenya, Germany, and Uganda athletic teams at the Olympics.    

On the other hand, Jonathan Levitt, the sports raconteur, found an uncanny resemblance to the swimming costume. This is for the swimming events, right?” Another user made a practical point. “This is a joke, right? Running in that outfit will gather the material in the centre exposing everything. Why can’t the women wear the same thing as the men?It should be noted that, according to the New York Times, female athletes will be able to opt for a shorts-and-top costume or wear shorts with a bodysuit if that’s what will make them feel comfortable. Hoke also confirmed that Nike takes advice from the athletes throughout the process of the design. Interestingly, Sha’Carri Richardson was Nike’s consultant on behalf of the sprinting athletes.    

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One user found similarities between the new costume and the Team GB kits, which is yet to confirm its Olympic kits. However, the usual British costume for females is stunningly similar in shape (see the images below). It is important to understand that the kits featured at the Paris show were just a dummy version. Next week when the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit convenes in New York, final calls are going to be taken. 

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What are your thoughts about the costume? Share your thoughts below!

Read more: “This Is Disgusting”: Sha’Carri Richardson vs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Ad Disrespect Bashed by Fans

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Written by:

Prasun Chakrabarty

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Prasun Chakrabarty is an Olympic Sports Writer for EssentiallySports, who specializes in covering aquatic arena events. Post his experiences with popular publications including PinkVilla, Prasun began his days in ES, by actively covering two prime events - 2023 US Open Swimming Championships and the 2024 TYR Pro Swim Series. Prasun's coverage extends beyond the pool, and he takes specific interest in the progress of the triangular rivalry between track and field stars, Sha’Carri Richardson, Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. You can follow him on:-
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Edited by:

Bhujaya Ray Chowdhury