Sequins and feathers: It's cool to look hot at the Olympics
With ever tighter, shorter and flashier outfits, athletes at this year’s Olympic Games are striving to look as outrageous as possible21 August 2008
BEIJING -- Ever brighter, ever tighter , hot pants for the sprints, ringed socks for the long jump, "whole-body condoms" for swimming. One could be forgiven for thinking that the Olympics is a fashion, show, not the athletics event.
Just about everyone is wearing as little as possible: The flapping shorts and sloppy tops look is for ball sports only, apart from the volleyballers.
Ah, the volleyballers -- especially those on the beach. The girls' bikinis just get tinier and tinier, while if they had their way, the boys would play their version of the sport bare-chested.
"Trouble is, there would be nothing left to throw into the crowd but your shorts," said German beach volleyball player David Klemperer.
Topless, knee-length version
The tightest-of-the-tight-fitting high-tech swimsuits might look like the athletes are poured into them but in fact, they take 15 to 20 minutes to struggle into before each race.
That might explain why some of the men prefer the topless knee-length version.
"When I started, I used to wear a costume for 100 old German marks," said former German swimming star Franziska von Almsick. "Now these high-tech racing suits cost €500."
The sleek one-piece suits might be good for setting world records but they're not too flattering: "You look like a flatfish or a skeleton," said sprint double gold medalist Britta Steffen.
Patterns and sequins
The ones who really go over the top are the synchronized swimming competitors with their wildly patterned, sequined swimsuits and their waterproof make-up.
Chinese model Mo Wanden has just been showing the most expensive swimsuit in Beijing -- a little black number with a honeycomb pattern recalling the architecture of the Water Cube and featuring hundreds of crystals by the legendary Austrian Swarovski company.
Designer Huang Yinyan hopes the 117,647-euro garment will enter the Guinness Book of Records. It's due to feature in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne once the games are over.
Attention to detail
Then there is all the fastidious attention to detail that many athletes indulge in: American heptathlon contender Jackie Johnson's sky- blue detachable sleeves or Samoa's Shanahan Sanitoa clocking the worst time in the 100-meter heats in a pink dance costume.
There are more birds of paradise flapping away in the athletics sandpit. Panama's Irving Saladina leapt to gold in one blue and one red lacquered shoe.
South Africa's Khoto Mokoena took silver in bright red knee-length socks, while those of Senegal's Ndiss Kaba Badjiaus featured brightly-colored rings.
It has even reached as far as the conservative hockey women. They might still be sticking to their classic skirts but at least the tops have moved on. They're now tight-fitting, with narrow shoulder straps.
-- Ulrike John/Expatica