Olivia Breen: World champion para-athlete left angry after official said her shorts were “too revealing”


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Olivia Breen
Olivia Breen is scheduled to compete in next month’s Paralympics in Tokyo

Double world champion para-athlete Olivia Breen said she was left angry and speechless after being told she was wearing “more appropriate” shorts.

Breen, 24, says an official at the English Championships on Sunday told her the panties were “too short and revealing”.

The long-distance runner and jumper said she highlighted the incident to stop it from happening to others.

“I got really angry and that’s very wrong,” Breen said.

“You know I can’t comment on what we can and can’t wear.”

Breen won a gold medal at the World Championships in the T35-38 4x100m class in 2015 and again in 2017 in the T38 long jump and during her career she wears the same style of her sponsor’s competitive briefs.

“They’re like a high-waisted bikini bottom,” she told BBC Radio Women’s Hour 4.

“I’ve been wearing them for nine years, I’ve never had a problem and we should feel comfortable with what we wear.

“We want to be as light as possible when we compete, they don’t have to feel heavy and feel comfortable.

“We should only wear what we have the right to wear.”

Breen, who also won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympics, told the program that the incident happened after she competed in the long jump in Bedford.

I just finished the competition and thanked the officers for their help and support, and this official approached me and said ‘can I talk to you?’ and I was like yes, what’s the problem?

“She said,‘ I think what you’re wearing is very revealing and I think you should consider buying shorts. “I didn’t know what to say, I ran out of text, and my first thought process was“ are you kidding? “.”

Breen believes male athletes will not face similar surveillance or criticism, but after posting the incident on social media, she said other women told her they had had similar experiences.

“I never personally felt self-conscious, but yesterday I felt very angry and obviously because of the reactions on Instagram and Twitter it happened to a lot of young girls and athletes and that needs to change,” she added.

“I don’t think people have talked about it because they feel scared and I want people to feel confident and talk about it because it’s not right what happened and this has to stop happening to us.

“I’m just going to take it as far as I can. I really want to convey the message and obviously I want to make a change in women’s sports so people can’t comment again on what we can and can’t wear.”

Another British athlete, bullet thrower Amelia Stricker, said that the officials who gave such “unnecessary” comments should not serve, Breen’s view is.

“Yes, I very much agree,” she said.

“They do an amazing job and I really appreciate their support, but I can’t comment on what we wear. They’re there to do their job and help us, without commenting on what we wear, no matter what.”

An English Athletics spokesman said: “We are aware of the post and will investigate it as a matter of urgency. The well-being of all participants in athletics is paramount and everyone should feel comfortable competing and participating in the sport.”


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