Clothes maketh the man…but breaketh the Olympic athlete

By Greg Nicolson 27 July 2012

When the world’s Olympians parade through the stadium during the London opening ceremony, the first thing we’ll see is each country’s uniform. Well-chosen, the threads can symbolise the country’s spirit, touch its culture, pay homage to its history and signal its future. At worst, they just make the athletes look dof. GREG NICOLSON picks the best and worst.



Spanish canoer Saul Cravatio judged his team’s uniform best. “It’s best if I don’t give my opinion,” he told Twitter. Instead of imbuing athletes with pride, Spain’s uniform makes them look like long-haul truck drivers with matador ambitions on their way to a braai.


The Yanks are widely expected to top the games medal tally and have tried to bring a touch of class to the anticipated glory. Wearing Ralph Lauren (the Polo logo rides conspicuously on the blazer breast), the Americans look like teenagers from a reality television program set in a privileged Californian suburb who have been forced to dress up like navy recruits. 


London’s known for its rain, and perhaps team China hoped to brighten the mood with its tangerine blazers and matching ties. Instead they’ll walk into the stadium looking like air hosts from the 1970s. Surely the internet censors don’t block fashion sites?



The Italians are expected to finish in the top 10 on the medal tally, but even if they do a South-Africa-in-Beijing, they’ll take gold in the fashion stakes. The understated look was designed by Giorgio Armani, who was able to add a touch of flair: the national anthem is embroidered in gold inside each athlete’s jacket, just in case they forget.


The Aussies might look like Don Bradman wannabes, but seeing the games are all about competitive nationalism, I have no choice but to include them in the best. Plus, they’ve also done their embroidery. Sewed into the jacket linings is the name of every Australian gold medal winner.


Jamaica’s sprinters will write their own narrative on the track, and its designers have brought their own flare to the uniforms. The Puma military jackets might support the Rastafarian stereotype, but hell, dem bashy bashy and bad like yaz. DM

 Photo: U.S. athletes run around the track in their new Olympic uniforms during the U.S. Olympic athletics trials in Eugene, Oregon June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith


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