Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Long socks, yellow shoes and elbow covers

If you understand the title, then you'll know that today's topic is the Olympics.

Living in a country not my 'own' has given me a renewed interest in this four yearly event as the two television channels we get access to feature Brits (yes, push aside the guy who broke the world record and interview the sixth-placed Londoner) and everyone else (freebie Eurosport channel interspersed with adverts for colleges in Qatar and the Russian railway system).  Aussie jingoism is non-existent and the only glimpses we get is what we glean online or if they make it into a final.

Still, I'm addicted. Seeing the best in the world get their ten, twenty seconds or three minutes of fame is intoxicating and I'm a sucker for any medal-winner who cries with joy, is related to a zany parent or demonstrates an unusual display of humility.

Apart from an interest in honed bodies and zero percent body fat, I've noticed that, similar to the big label fashionistas, athletes too have their fads and looks they follow. In 2012, it seems to be knee socks for runners and anyone throwing things along with fluoro yellow as the predominant colour of choice for sneakers. 

No-one in my 'real' life (ie Love Chunks sitting next to me on the sofa) or any 'expert commentators' on the telly have been able to explain what those elbow glove / sock / warmer thingies are about. An American runner who resembles Beyonce - Sanya Richards-Ross - seems to like wearing them and considering she's won herself a few medallions to pack in her hand luggage on the trip home means that they must help in some way.

Time will tell if these Big Three Athletic Items stand the test of time or be proven to contribute towards an improvement in performance. Cathy Freeman's head-to-toe bodysuit (and head snood) didn't sweep the world, nor did Serena's all white tennis catsuit - but I'm prepared to hazard a guess that Australia's uniforms did nothing to help their performance.  Rather, they helped hinder it.

Our flag may be red, white and blue, but so are many other countries' flags. The green and gold of our floral emblem, the beloved wattle, was a fair alternative. Certainly better than Pigface, Dicksonia or Bladderwort but - it must be said - also presenting an enormous challenge to design a uniform featuring those colours that won't result in something eye-zappingly appalling, gaudy or both. 

Some Olympic kits have been better than others but this year.... well, from an outsider's perspective (a hemisphere separates us), they're soul suckingly awful. Google images has only shown the tracksuits on the Gold medal-winning ladies' relay team, so you're spared the horror of seeing them worn by individual swimmers as they sauntered out - presumably in embarrassment or shame - to the starting blocks. Baggy and dowdy, they looked as though they'd been reluctantly picked up off the floor of my Dad's squash club, circa 1977. How can an athlete perform in an outfit that is so butt ugly? 

And speaking of butts - or the fronts of butts - the cyclists caused me to shudder and change the channel. "Oh Love Chunks - they're four lemons wearing button mushrooms as helmets!" Sun yellow lycra around the penisticular area is so obviously a no-go that the decision to use this - and apparently embrace it by adding a mesh shape to subtlely POINT OUT the jaundiced jatz crackers - was a crime against all things athletic and aesthetic, surely?

Nineteen year old Steven Solomon made it to the final of the men's 400 metres. A stunning achievement by anyone's standards. And what was the poor bugger required to wear? A harry high pants onesie presumably designed by someone picked last for every sports team, coming off a cough syrup and pop rocks bender and still clearly harboring a crush for Craig McLachlan during the Neighbours years.  Sapphire was passing by and groaned, "Oh geez - what is he wearing?" Couldn't have put it more eloquently myself.

Solomon came last but is still the eighth fastest in the world. But, for anyone watching who possessed a shred of empathy, he was a winner.  He had more guts, determination and bravery than the other seven runners in front of him.  He wore the outfit, knew that it would be seen by a billion people and still managed to hold his head up and run. Like crazy.  


Alexia said...

O.M.G. Those cyclists' outfits!!

Nothing wrong with basic black, with white/silver accents ;)
The kiwi flag is an embarrassment, though - soo similar to yours :D

An entertaining post - thank you.

Windsmoke. said...

All i can say is that it was a very poor performance by Australia and heads need to roll.

Red Nomad OZ said...

And there you have it ... the reason for OZ' abysmal performance in a nutshell (so to speak)!!! There's only so much you can do with sports 'fashion' - so maybe we've got down to 'repulse' and 'appal' as design team mission statement keywords!!

Even further back, does anyone recall Flo-Jo's one sleeve/one bare shoulder suits? I think we've still got a little way to go ...

Ollie said...

Kath, I'm so jealous! Not having Foxtel, I'm only able to watch the truly pathetic coverage offered here by Channel 9. You haven't lived until you've heard Eddie's narration of the opening ceremony! In between ads, we get to see the lunchboxes of our athletes ad nauseum. We now call it the 'Willy Olympics!'

Andrew said...

As sure as death, taxes and strong wind warnings east of Wilsons Promontory, you can be sure every four years our Olympic outfits will be criticised. Our uniform in the opening ceremony was so, so dull. Get Ken Done or Jenny Kee.

Kath Lockett said...

Alexia, I reckon that every cyclists' heart must have sank when they were presented with that outfit. The funny white booties were the full stop to their shame.

And yes, the Kiwi flag is similar to ours, but your all-black uniform with the white ferns always - always - look terrific. Lucky ducks!

Windsmoke, I think a few 'big' heads got the wake up call they deserved. From the little I glean from the 'web and the smug comments from British broadcasters, it seems that some of our swimmers (hello Ms Rice and Mr Magnussen) needed to say less before the event and do better in the event itself.

Red Nomad - trouble is, the 'repulse and appal' tactic hasn't worked! Well, only for the poor sap having to *wear* the outfit.

Oh Ollie, I can't express in words how glad I am to have seen the opening ceremony (well, at least until countries starting with the letter 'G' arrived, then I went to bed) on the Beeb. Escaping 'Eddie Everywhere' and that annoying 'Gold Gold Gold for Australia' Lawrie Lawrence has made London 2012 must more pleasant to watch.

I guess I've joined (or was already a card-carrying member) of the outfit critics but this time, they looked so terrible I had to write something. Even the greenish lines on the outfits looked like a tired afterthought. Give ME the contract for 2016 I say!

Jenwren59 said...

Oh, the shame, the embarassment, I can almost hear the rest of the world sniggering at us. Thank goodness we've finally got some gold over the past 48 hours. I do hope in the 4 years leading up to Rio someone with an ounce of taste gets to design the uniforms. We have to be green & gold, it's our colour but PLEASE a bit of thought for the poor athletes who have to venture out in them, give them something to be proud of wearing.

uf said...

Ha! Glad to hear Slovenians weren't the only ones appalled by our olympic outfits' design this year.

The Elephant's Child said...

You know the costumes are bad when Mr Abbot has not been seen in or near them. I mean really, really bad. However, if he were to be seen in say the cyclists uniform all my dieting needs would be met for the next decade. Eat, remember, puke, eat, remember, puke, eat,...

Fenstar de Luxe said...

Bwahahahahahaha this post is made of awesome, and yes our outfits are revolting. But not as bad as the Spanish ones!

River said...

It seems as if every Olympics outfit for the last few games has been designed by a colour-blind team with no sense of style at all. Other countries don't seem to look as bad a s us. So what's at fault? The colours or the design? Which is it that makes the other look so awful?

diane b said...

Can't agree more with you on the uniform design. I thought the men looked bad until I saw poor Anna Mears in her fabulous Gold medal race when you could actually see the camel foot.
I'll vote you to design them next year. Another whinge I had is that some swimmers wore a white hat, its much easier to see them (losing) in a yellow hat.

Kath Lockett said...

Jenwren, I'm going to offer my services as Australia's uniform designer for 2016. Black bottom halves on the cyclists for starters.

uf, I'll have to google what the Slovenians wore ---- (comes back) ---- Nope. The white, cheery blue and green is much, much nicer than Australia's. By a long shot!

E-Child, you've got a good idea there. Maybe someone could superimpose Abbott's head onto one of the cycling uniforms and email it around during the (inevitable) nastiness leading up to the next election. Free, easy and will hopefully prevent him from getting anywhere near the Lodge.

Thanks Fernstar. If only the material wasn't so plentiful!

River, I think it's both, but the design this year has been particularly bad.

True, dianeb - the swimmers need to stick with their yellow caps. Vote me in as their next designer! Maybe polar fleece and uggs in yellow and gold....?

Jackie K said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Olympics, and I loved Stephen Solomon! And yeah, have been noticing all the fluoro yellow sneakers. Not sure who would willingly wear yellow anything if they didn't have to (our country has awful colours - green and "gold". No uniform ever looks good).

Kath Lockett said...

I still think we've looked better in other Olympics, Jackie K - this one is the worst.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I wondered what those arm thingies were - I saw a guy wearing them ands thought he looked really odd.

Poor Aussies - poor, poor Aussies. And I'm not gloating either (as I said I'm sick of the jingoism but proud of Team GB).

I know that we have a rivarly in sport and it makes a change to see the bright yellow Aussies on the receiving end of a battering.

I'm certain revenge will be sweet eventually but we can enjoy it a while.



GBPM ;-)

Kath Lockett said...

Plasman, you can enjoy it - Team GB have performed incredibly well - difficult not to celebrate alongside you! The brothers winning gold and bronze in the triathlon, Jessica Ennis, Mo in the 10,000 ......

drb said...

Oh Kath, either you had a short memory or you were not paying attention last Olympic.
This year uniform is a vast improvement from the 2008 olympic design and the athletes are much less embarressed this year. Let me refresh your memory:

After looking at the pic you must agree I am right.

drb said...

opps, sorry wrong link.
This is the correct link:

drb said...

and this:

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nuttynoton said...

I must admit as a brit and living very close to Yorkshire it was agreat Olympics, I have to say having managed to get tickets for two olympic football matches, how great the atmosphere and for those that attended the olympic park it was the volunteers who made it! Sadly cannot get tickets for the Para Olympics as that is going to be amazing to. Something that Britain did right unlike the designer of your Oz kit, still hopefully you will get it right next time, great post