Stripes may have been conspicuously absent from the new US Olympic track and field uniforms, unveiled in the West Village last night, but the stars were out in full force at the Nike apparel’s debut. The event, held just around the corner from the home of Sarah Jessica Parker, where President Obama was being fêted with a fundraiser, drew a trio of Olympic legends in Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Michael Johnson, the three of whom hold a staggering 20 Olympic medals between them (including 16 golds). They spoke about their own Olympic successes and the upcoming Games, before offering attendees a first look at this year’s uniforms.
“It’s going to be tougher than it normally is,” said Johnson, whose world record in the 200m stood for 12 years before being bested by the world’s current fastest man, Usain Bolt, of America’s chances in the sprints in London. “The Jamaicans have the top two sprinters in the world right now. Our guys are just going to have to find a way.”
Added Lewis, who twice won Olympic gold in the 100m in 1984 and 1988, “They can talk all the smack they want, but I bet we’ll win more medals in the sprints than any other country.”
If the Americans are to fulfill Lewis’ prediction, they’ll need all the help they can get from their official outfitter, Nike. The sponsor’s new, fiery red track uniforms, lighter than any previous incarnation and emblazoned with a sharp USA logo sprawled across the chest, are a change of pace from the traditional blues of Olympics past.
Speaking after the unveiling, four-time Olympian (and three-time Gold medalist) Joyner-Kersee was quick to give her approval. “I think it’s really empowering,” she said. “To me, the color is symbolic of the USA.” And what of the bodies set to fill those red uniforms? “If you’re going to step out in red, you better be ready!”