When you’re a world champion in any sport, you should get to wear whatever the hell you like – right? Well, one athlete (female, of course) has been told that her competition outfit is “inappropriate”. How sad, Strong Women editor Miranda Larbi writes…
If you were a world champion, you’d probably expect to be able to compete wearing whatever it was that got you to that position in the first place. Perhaps that’d mean lacing up the same shoes you boxed your way to the top in or wearing the same lucky pants that drove you to success. Yet, a double Paralympic world champion sprinter and long jumper has been told that her competition briefs are “too short and inappropriate”.
Olivia Breen was reprimanded by an official for wearing “inappropriate” short-shorts while competing at the English Championships on Sunday in Bedford. That would be the same Sunday that saw highs of 30°C in London and the same briefs that Breen said had been “specifically designed for competing in.”
Ever the professional, Breen tweeted that she’d been left “disappointed” by the comment; if faced with a similarly frustrating situation, I imagine that very few women would have been able to keep the same level of composure. She went on to suggest that while she fully intends to wear the same shorts at the Tokyo Olympics, “it made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticised.”
And that’s really the crux of the matter. Why do we care what athletes wear while doing their job? They need to move with ease; their clothing choices should revolve around what can get them to run faster, jump higher and move easier, while increasing their confidence and mood. They shouldn’t have to consider what may or may not appear “decent” to officials, volunteers or audiences.
Women face enough barriers to sport as it is and we know at a grassroots level that many struggle with feeling self-conscious at gyms and training facilities. I’ve struggled to feel comfortable entering such spaces in crop tops and short-shorts – even during heatwaves.
While that can be hard to stomach, I’ve always assumed that the creme de la creme of the sporting world didn’t have to deal with this kind of bullshit – their incredible talent and success precludes them from judgment. How disappointing to find out that that’s not the case.
To all the female movers out there: keep wearing those short-shorts – especially if you’re a bloody world champion.
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Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.