Paralympian questions sexist attitudes after told shorts “too short” at Bedford track

Olivia Breen Image: Olivia Breen/Instagram
Olivia Breen Image: Olivia Breen/Instagram

Team GB’s para-athlete, Olivia Breen, who is the double world champion has spoken of her dismay at being told her official shorts were too short and she should wear something “more appropriate”.

Speaking to the BBC, Breen said the comments, made at Bedford Athletic Track during the English Championships on Sunday (18 Jul), “made me feel really angry”.

She believes male competitors would not have comments made about their clothing and wants to highlight apparent sexist attitudes in athletics to stop it from happening again.

“You know they can’t comment on what we can and can’t wear,” she said.

The 24-year-old won a world championship gold medal in the T35-38 4x100m class in 2015 and a gold in the T38 long jump in 2017.

Speaking to The Guardian, Breen, who has cerebral palsy, said: “I am always grateful for the incredible volunteers who officiate at athletics events.

“They do an amazing job and make it possible for us to compete. However, tonight I feel disappointed because just as I finished my long jump competition one of the female officials felt it necessary to inform me that my sprint briefs were too short and inappropriate. I was left speechless.”

“I have been wearing the same sprint style briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in,” she added.

“I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo. It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticised.”

Speaking to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4, Breen said the official “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 was left speechless and my first thought process was ‘are you joking?’.”

An England Athletics spokesperson has told the media, “We are aware of the post and will be investigating as a matter of urgency.

“The wellbeing of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport.”

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