What the 138-member Team SA will be wearing at the 2016 Rio Olympics remains a mystery. Just over a week before the first athletes depart for Brazil, SASCOC is keeping details about the deal that gives Chinese footwear brand 361 Degrees logo so prominent a place among its sponsors under careful wraps.
We at least expected that some athletes would show off their new kit this morning (14 July) at the announcement of the team that will be going to Rio. But no, the spotlight was firmly on SASCOC CEO and Chef de Mission Tubby Reddy, SASCOC president Gideon Sam, Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen, who all got their chance to mention sponsors … and all failed to include any mention of a clothing sponsor, or supplier.
Sevens Rugby Player of the Year Werner Kok was the only speaker to mention 361 Degrees, when he was asked to say a few words on behalf of the athletes.
Heaven help us if the loose-fitting green jerseys with huge SASCOC and Olympic logos the few athletes in the audience wore actually represent the kit the team will be wearing.
But, without any representation in South Africa to liaise with athletes and chase delivery, the Chinese brand might just be running a tad late (remember Beijing, when last minute alterations had to be made to the ill-fitting team kit).
The low priority given to the kit the South African athletes will be performing in is in sharp contrast to the sleek and snazzy hi-tech gear teams like Australia, Great Britain, the US, China, Brazil etc. will be competing in.
Athletes like Australian gold medalist hurdler Sally Pearson certainly understands the importance of wearing gear that will help you to perform at your best. At the unveiling of the Australian team kit she said “Our sport is so competitive and the field so close that to have the confidence that my uniform has been developed using state of the art technology gives me the edge I need over my competitors.”
The Australians will be competing in green and gold kit that adidas started developing eighteen months before the unveiling, with input from the top athletes. They produced more than 90 000 items of apparel and footwear for the 800 plus Australian athletes and officials who will be going to Rio. Their kit will also feature the adidas Climachill technology to keep them comfortable in the Brazilian heat and humidity.
Climachill keeps an athlete’s body temperature at an optimum level and this technology has been fine-tuned in the climate chamber of the adidas research labs. Some of the innovations include industry-leading 3D aluminium-cooling spheres strategically located on the back and neck to correspond with the warmest areas of the body, providing an instant cooling sensation on contact. Mesh-like micro fibres transport excess moisture away from the skin and the unique SubZero flat yarns, which contain titanium to maximise surface contact with the skin, transfer heat away from the body. The weight and fabric thickness of the garments differ between sports, depending on the athletes’ needs.
Stella McCartney again designed the Team Great Britain (GB) uniforms for adidas, this year featuring a specifically designed coat of arms on the garments in the red, blue and white colours of the Union flag. The garments are 10% lighter than kit McCartney designed in 2012 and features adidas’ Clima technology that conduct heat and sweat away from the body.
The design team worked in close collaboration with GB athletes and governing bodies for two years to ensure that the garments meet the specific needs of the athletes hoping to win medals.
The adidas Olympic athletes will also be wearing the new Ultra Boost Uncaged, designed especially to offer them unfettered foot performance. The adidas Boost footwear will debut at the Olympics in six disciplines: marathon, track and field, basketball, tennis, handball and volleyball.
Apart from being the official uniform supplier of the IOC – including the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games – Nike is supplying the uniforms of the two top teams at the 2012 London Olympics – the US and China – as well as host nation Brazil and 6th placed Germany. Croatia and Qatar will also wear uniforms supplied by Nike.
The bright red white and blue uniforms of the US team uniforms are ultra-light, help the athlete’s body cool down faster and in some cases improve aerodynamics. The sleek one-piece suits worn by runners will feature triangular shapes, called AeroBlades, to channel air around the athlete and make him more aerodynamic. In London the American sprinters had dots on their kits to increase the aerodynamic wave, but since then the kit developers found that triangular shapes result in more aerodynamic kit. They will be on the kit, tested in wind tunnels, which will be worn by all athletes who want to be faster – from marathon runners to sprinters.
Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt and his team mates have placed PUMA prominently under the Olympic spotlight. They not only compete with the cat on their kit, but Bolt is also the video face of the new PUMA IGNITE Dual running shoe. He and South African Olympic medal hopeful and world duathlon champion Richard Murray also wear PUMA’s Speed 300.
Recently the brand signed an athletics partnership with another Caribbean country: Barbados. The brand will supply the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) with performance race and training wear, as well as with its other apparel needs.
The track and field team will debut its new PUMA apparel in Rio, and the partnership will see the brand supplying the federation for the next three major summer championships.
PUMA also has existing partnerships with Cuba, Grenada, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. “Signing Barbados continues a focus on an area of the world where fast reigns supreme,” says the company in a statement. “Partnering Barbados is another step towards PUMA becoming the fastest sport brand in the world.”
Skechers’ GOrun running shoe won its high performance credentials by being worn by the American marathon champion Meb Keflezhighi.
Carlos Trujillo (below) will also be running long distance at the Olympics in Skechers, but in the colours of Guatemala. He is a former 10-km Pac-10 Conference champion and half-marathon winner.
Belgium triathlete Claire Michel (below) is another Skechers athlete who’ll be active in Rio. She was the 2014 and 2015 Belgian Triathlon Female Athlete of the Year and is also the 2016 Belgian sprint champion.
Another Skechers distance athlete is Paulo Roberto de Almeida Paula (below) from host country Brazil, who came eighth in the London 2012 Olympic marathon.
The Skechers GOwalk performance range made them the #1 brand in walking in the US, the brand claims – and several race walkers at the Olympics will be testing this claim, most of them from host country Brazil.
Among them are five-time Brazilian national race walking champion Cisiane Dutra Lopez (above). The former South American U23 champion was a bronze medal winner in the Ibero-American Championship. Other Brazilian race walking men in the Skechers team are Moacir Zimmerman and José Alessandro Bernardo Bagio, who won the gold medal for the 20km walk at the 2008 Ibero-American Championships in Chile.
When she is not performing in the pool, Brazilian-born Duane Da Rocha (above), who now swims for Spain, also wears Skechers. She won gold in 200m backstroke at the 2014 European Swimming Championships in Germany and has also won medals at the Mediterranean Games and World Championships.