Editorial: Olympians wear kit for a moment but fern forever

Athletes showcase the new New Zealand Olympic uniform at the Prime Minister's Olympic Gala Dinner at Sky City. Photo / Getty Images
Athletes showcase the new New Zealand Olympic uniform at the Prime Minister's Olympic Gala Dinner at Sky City. Photo / Getty Images

The ritual unveiling of the New Zealand Olympic uniform follows a now familiar path.

A group of athletes is assembled to parade the new threads before the media and a politician or two. Images get posted and, faster than Usain Bolt, critics wade in about the drab colour of the jackets, the limp cut of the track pants or the frumpy look of the casual tops.

What committee designed these, the fashionistas grizzle? Why couldn't we be, say, like France, kitted out by Lacoste, Italy in Armani, the Americans clothed in Ralph Lauren or the Brits, all togged up in Stella McCartney gear?

All this designer envy misses the point. Our Olympians are actually getting something far more precious next month in Brazil - the opportunity to wear the silver fern at the highest level of endeavour.

The Games are not a fashion parade - they are an elite competition for which athletes have poured enormous energy into achieving selection and committed their precious youthful years to measure themselves against the best in the world.

What they wear off the track is of secondary interest and will not make them swim faster or clip a few seconds off the rowing regatta time.

As for style - well, if a tatty singlet linked to Peter Snell's famous 1964 victories in Tokyo is worth $122,500 (if the real one ever surfaces that is) then who's to say the Rio rig won't be worth its weight in gold in 50 years.

- NZ Herald

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