Black is the new red.
Recycled plastic water bottle is the new polyester.
And skin is in, if not particularly aerodynamic.
In the Ancient Olympics, athletes competed naked. At London 2012, Canada’s track and field team will merely feel like they’re running, jumping, heaving, hurdling and hurling in the buff.
Just buffed bodies, though: Human physiognomy at its to-drool-for zenith, with sculpted muscle and washboard abs and tight buttocks and sinewy lines and … well, very little left to the imagination.
Encased — barely covered, just the floppy bits — in seamless lightweight fabric, woven through with teensy strategically covered breathing “donuts’’ that mimic the pimples on a golf ball and help reduce drag.
On Tuesday, the media got an advance eyeful of what these splendid athletes will be wearing, come the Olympics in a couple of weeks as Nike trotted out their track and field line of “kit’’ at their flagship Bloor Street store.
Statuesque hurdler Phylicia George won’t be wearing very much, actually. The skimpiest of bikini bottom and midriff top leaves a swath of flesh exposed from just below the breast plate to well below the navel. This is the “sprinter’’ model, designed to preserve a minuscule modicum of modesty, decorously covering the pelvic “V’’ — the Mound of Venus, as it was once known — and the bosom. In George’s case, this actually draws the eye to her impossibly slim Scarlett O’Hara waist. My thigh is wider.
“In my private clothes, I’m actually shy about showing my belly-button,’’ says the stunning 24-year-old from Scarborough. “But on the track, I want to feel as free as possible. You don’t want clothes that feel suffocating. I definitely prefer wearing as little as possible.’’
She’s a self-admitted glamazon on the track, with the Flo-Jo nails and the runway coiffure hair. It’s all part of the self-confident feel-good package. “When I’m out there, I’m performing, like all eyes are on me. I want to look my best. This outfit helps me do that. The fabric is so smooth. It’s like a layer of skin.’’
George points out the edges of top and bottom that are literally seamless. That’s one of the features in Nike’s new Project Swift line for the Canadian squad — no stitching that might remotely chafe or hinder. Unusually for women’s sportswear, the bra inside the top is a detached piece of the ensemble. What’s tucked inside will stay inside; no Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunctions anticipated here. “I’ve never had one of those,’’ says George.
Nike, on this account, is strictly responsible for the track and field apparel. Team Canada’s parade attire and the uniforms for athletes in other disciplines have yet to be unveiled. And Nike has gone predominantly black, which is rather a change from the traditional red-and-white motif of Canadian Olympians.
Black, of course, is always in fashion and chic-style. So the little black dress has now morphed into the little black uni, with some red and white trimming. And violently green track shoes. Volt yellow is what Nike has named the shade but they look fluorescent green to me.
There are three versions of the T&F kits: sprint, distance and field, more than 20 pieces overall for each member of the Canadian squad, split-leg shorts and singlets for the distance specialists. The track team will number 40 when the final roster is assembled — second-largest to the group that competed at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles which were boycotted by Eastern Bloc countries. Of those, some 35 will be at their first Olympics.
Male sprinters reveal less skin in their sleek Turbospeed suits, one and two-piece options, that go shoulder to knee, yet so clinging tight they still leave little to the imagination, shall we say, as relay runner Justyn Warner demonstrated. In these suckers, one is just about able to discern if a guy has been circumcised.
“It looks tight but it feels loose,’’ said Warner, of Markham, who will likely opt for the shoulder-strap model rather than the little cuffed sleeves thingy he wore for the media strut. “It still hasn’t really kicked in that I’m going to be representing Canada at the Olympics. But I’m sure it will when I’m under the lights in London.’’
Scott Williams, Nike creative director, explains that Project Swift duds were subjected to more than 1,000 hours of wind-tunnel testing and incorporated input suggestions from some of the world’s top athletes. In London, athletes from about 20 nations will be dressed by Nike. Each Turbospeed suit is constructed of 82 per cent recycled polyester — or 12 recycled water bottles per kit. “The main reason for using recycled products has nothing to do with the design,’’ says Williams. “It’s just about our recycling policy and reducing carbon emissions.’’
But the manufacturer maintains the new aerodynamic-slick suits have proven to shave more than two-hundredths of a second off a 100-metre time, which can make a huge difference in outcome.
Warner is taking that as the gospel truth.
“Any little split second can help. In a 100, any little fraction of a second can count.’’
Huh. Sports reporters have been wearing polyester FOREVER.
-- Torstar News Services