Two-time Paralympic champion Olivia Breen was “left speechless” after she was told her competition briefs were too short by an official at the English Championships.
The 24-year-old, who will compete at the Paralympics in Tokyo, said she has been wearing the same style of sprint briefs for years, and they are specifically designed for competing.
“Tonight I felt quite disappointed because just as I finished my long jump competition at the English Championships, one of the female officials felt it necessary to inform me that my sprint briefs were too short and inappropriate,” she wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
“I was left speechless. I have been wearing the same style sprint briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in. I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo.”
In her statement, Breen, who has cerebral palsy, pondered whether a male athlete would be subjected to the same criticism while competing.
“It made me questions whether a male competitor would be similarly criticised. I hope no other female athletes had similar issues,” she wrote.
“I recognise there needs to be regulations and guidelines in relation to competition kit but women should not be made to feel self-conscious about what they are wearing when competing but should feel comfortable and at ease.”
Breen told The Guardian she was wearing official Adidas briefs for 2021, and said the design of them helps her to feel as “light as possible” which is critical for her in competition.
Breen, who won a world championship gold medal in the T35-38 4x100m in 2015 and in 2017 in the T38 long jump, said comments like these could “ruin confidence and self esteem” of young female athletes.
“For me it just made me angry. If I was 16 or something it would make me burst into tears,” Breen told CNN.
“They need to treat us with respect and not make us feel like rubbish.”
Looking for an easy way to support independent, female-led journalism and boost your own career in the process? Join Women’s Agenda Extra today, and you’ll receive a 6-month subscription to leading content library, Scribd with millions of audiobooks, podcasts, magazines and more.