Published on 22 Mar 2012 Sections

Olympics kit unveiled


Sports reporter Keme Nzerem was at the launch of Team GB’s new Olympics kits and Jon Snow has a rare awkward moment as the kit is quite literally unveiled on the programme.

There were lasers. A booming techno beat. A slick video presentation. Maybe even dry ice – it’s hard to be sure, such was the hype. And from the bowels of what appeared to be some kind of pneumatic turret (we were at the Tower of London after all – albeit inside a vast purpose built marquee) a dais slowly arose.

First, we were given a head; hair shorn close. Then the tell tale headband. The facial piercings. And a pair of impossibly long legs. Philips Idowu, Olympic and World triple jump silver medallist. 6ft 5in, his stockinged feet. And this morning clad in Stella McCartney’s team GB 2012 kit.

Still the dais rose. Idowu looked around, then smiled. The dais rose some more. Was he on his own? Behold! Another head appeared! Hair pulled back tight. Impossibly smooth skin. Midriff, of course, die cut and rippled. Jess Ennis. World Indoor and Outdoor heptathlon silver medallist. 5ft 5in. A full foot shorter than her teammate.

Together they peered about the tent. Blinked into the lights. Shifted from foot to foot. And dare I say it, looked a little bemused. The techno pounded on. And stage left and right, more podiums rose, and then fall to the beat. Perched on top – toned and buffed would be Olympians and Paralympians. Swimmers, cyclists, footballers, hockey players. Some short, some tall. Some with two legs, some with one. Some in wheelchairs, some without. All, of course, sporting their brand new threads.

They put on a show, that’s for sure, even between the slightly awkward cover shot poses. For this was not really one for the grizzled old sports hacks, but a performance for the fashionistas. And expecting athletes to sashay a catwalk was perhaps a bit of a tall order – even for Phlips Idowu.

They’d arrived the night before for a rehearsal. Elite athletes all of them, to a man and woman. But, they told me afterwards, it soon became clear the choreography of a clothing shoot presented them with a different kind of challenge. There were a few too many pirouettes in the wrong direction. So they agreed pretty quickly to shelve half the moves and opt for a simplified version.

And so the performance became thus. The Lycra was still tight. And the codpieces still bulging. For although Team GB’s new kit is hi tech and a crucial weapon in their hunt for medals this summer, today was about getting sexy pictures on tomorrow’s front pages. They would walk onto stage. Smile at the expectant crowd. Smile. Pose. Turn. Walk off. Sure, there still were a few embarrassed glances backstage. But it would all be over pretty soon.

The music rose to a daunting crescendo. The 30-odd athletes-cum-models gathered together as one for the obligatory closing group shot. Stella McCartney teetered on in her high fashion play suit and terrifyingly high heels. They all waved together – and then were off.