Two-time Team GB Paralympian Olivia Breen has said today that female athletes should not be made self-conscious about their competition outfits after she was criticized about the length of her briefs.
Breen, 24, who has cerebral palsy and will compete in the Paralympics in Tokyo next month, was approached by a female official after the long jump at the England Championships in Bedford on Sunday and told her the Adidas competition briefs were “too short”. ‘ and ‘inappropriate’.
Speaking about the incident at GMB of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, in Leicestershire, the athlete said she had received reports of similar incidents from other young female athletes.
Breen, 24, who has cerebral palsy and will compete in the Paralympics in Tokyo next month, was approached by a female official after the long jump at the England Championships in Bedford on Sunday and told her the Adidas competition briefs were “too short”. ‘ and ‘inappropriate’. In the photo, Breen wearing the slip at another match
Speaking about the incident at Ashby-de-la-Zouch’s GMB, in Leicestershire, the athlete said such comments hurt an athlete’s self-confidence and revealed that she had received messages from ‘young girls’ who have received similar treatment
She said, “Hearing that made me feel really angry. We cannot be told such things. I’ve had messages from young girls who said they were in tears about it. It’s that confidence and self-esteem that could break them.
“For me, it made me very angry, angry and frustrated. We live in 2021, not in the 18th century.’
Breen, who competes as a sprinter and in the long jump, explained that all athletes have their clothing checked by officials before the race to make sure it meets the rules, such as wearing a club or national vest.
The rules on the UK Athletics website make no specific comment on the length of shorts or briefs, but state: ‘In all events participants must wear at least a vest and shorts (or equivalent clothing) that are clean and so designed and worn are that they are not objectionable, even when wet.’
Breen explained that she had been wearing the same style of Adidas briefs for several years without complaint and was “stunned” when approached after the game.
‘I just finished the game. I was really happy, I just had a chat with my teammate and the official came up to me and said, “Can I talk to you Olivia?” And I said, “Sure, what’s up”.
Breen wore the same outfit in the long jump at the Muller British Athletics Championships in Manchester last month. She said she wore the same style of briefs for ‘many years’
And she said, ‘I think your briefs are too revealing and you should buy shorts.’ And I was surprised, I was stunned.
“My first reaction was, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And she said “no, I think you should buy shorts”… I’ve been an athlete for nine years and I’ve never been told “that’s too revealing” or “that’s inappropriate”. It’s ridiculous.’
Olivia further explained that some male athletes competed with their tops off and were not told to cover up. She revealed: “Nobody said anything. I had a male athlete make the point: “I had my top off because it was so hot and nobody told me to put it on.” It made me so angry, why did I have to go through what I’ve been through?’
Breen first brought the matter to light Sunday night when she shared an Instagram post saying, “I am always grateful for the incredible volunteers who perform at athletic events.
“They are doing a great job and enabling us to compete. However, tonight I am disappointed because just as I was finishing my long jump race, one of the female officials felt it necessary to inform me that my sprint slip was too short and inappropriate. I remained speechless.
Olivia, pictured wearing the briefs at the Muller British Athletics Championships in Manchester last month, said female athletes shouldn’t wonder what they look like during a competition.
“I’ve been wearing the same sprint style briefs for many years and they are specifically designed to compete with.
“Hopefully I’ll wear them in Tokyo. I wondered if a male competitor would be criticized the same way.
“I hope no other female athlete had similar problems. I recognize that there should be rules and guidelines regarding competition uniforms, but women should not be forced to feel insecure about what they are wearing during competitions, but they should feel comfortable and at ease.”
Breen won bronze at the 2012 London Paralympic Games for the 4x100m relay T35-T38.
Breen first brought the matter to light Sunday night when she shared an Instagram postbericht
She failed to earn a medal in Rio four years later, but did win gold in the long jump at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
An England Athletics spokesperson said: “We are aware of the post and will conduct an urgent investigation.
“The well-being of all participants in athletics is paramount and everyone should feel comfortable competing and participating in the sport.”
An Adidas spokesperson said: ‘Olivia is an inspiration on and off the track. It’s disappointing to see her judged on everything but her athletic performance. We fully endorse her comments and hope they will be adopted by the event organizers.”
UK Athletics has been contacted for comment.