Welcome to week two in our Olympic series!
This week we take a look at Australian Olympic-wear for the upcoming 2012 games. For the Aussies, its not the look that they insist is new, it’s the technology. The uniforms unveiled March 28th at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre do boast some interesting advances in performance and design that are said to be the most athlete friendly in Australian Olympic History.
For the last three olympics the look of the unis have been more or less the same, utilizing the iconic green and yellow colour scheme that the Aussies are known around the world for. So what’s different this time around?
Before we get into that lets just take a small trip down memory lane to re-aquaint ourselves with this historically high-achieving Olympic team. Australia has competed in ALL of the Summer Olympic games including partnering with New Zealand for two games under the designation “Australasia”. Edwin Flack was the first athlete to represent Australia at the 1896 summer Olympics in Athens and captured Gold in both the 800 metre and the 1500 metre running events. The Australian government has always been generous with its support for sport and some believe this has contributed greatly to its success at the games over the years. In 1956 and 2000, Australia was host nation and finished 3rd and 4th in the medal counts. Highly respectable.
Despite great success, for years, it’s been the same old story with Australian unis with nothing too new in the looks department to differentiate the individual games. The only noticeable oddities in the uniforms since 2000 have been the strange blue addition to the Beijing uniforms and the butt-crack riding women’s basketball uniform which was the talk of the town at the 2004 Athens games (ouch!).
In Beijing it was all about keeping the athletes cool, and they did this by introducing a product called climacool. For performance enhancement, runners were given body suits that featured power bands in key muscle group locations on the body. With 46 medals and a 6th place finish that year, I would say they did pretty well. Whether the unis had anything to do with it is a mystery.
With 18 months to design and construct over 80,000 items of apparel and footwear, adidas had its work cut out! This year, innovation is king. Not only are the new uniforms the fastest and lightest ever, they are also designed to actually make the athletes stronger. “How in the world is that possible” you say? Maker Adidas has introduced some of the most advanced materials in the world, including adidas TECHFIT® - PowerWEB® (compression fabrics designed to create maximum power and acceleration) and NEW AND IMPROVED ClimaCool (moisture and heat management fabrics and construction) technologies which all work together to improve performance.
Footwear for this year’s Olympics are on average 25% lighter than in Beijing and all uniforms feature the ClimaCool construction which includes advanced heat ventilation and moisture wicking fabrics and fibres.
“We are proud to be outfitting the Australian team with cutting edge technology and we wish them the best of luck for the 2012 London Olympics.” - Cam Baranski, Australian head of Sports Marketing for adidas
For the look of the uniforms, adidas followed its new country’s DNA heritage design whose primary goal is to create a unique individual identity that celebrates Australia. Components include the Australian Olympic Committee logo on the right side breast and other various motifs depending on the sport, aside from that the traditional green and gold is symbolically present.
For the Olympic ring, the outfits are much more traditional, featuring green blazers and khaki pants and skirts. Three-time Olympian Libby Trickett describes the look as “formal but in a very Australian way.”
To the untrained eye, the differences in the athletes uniforms are really hard to see. But if you’re Australian, you likely identify most with this look as opposed to the garrish blue from 2008. There must be a reason they have stuck with it so long! And although it isn’t flashy or bold or edgy, it truly is AUSTRALIAN!!!
Next week we take a closer look at some of the losers in Olympic wear for 2012, get ready for some head scratchers!