Paralympian Olivia Breen has hit back at critics who branded her sports briefs ‘too short’.
Breen was subject of controversy earlier this week, July 18, after she shared a story of how an English Championships official said her briefs were ‘short and inappropriate’.
The 24-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, explained on social media that she’s been wearing the same briefs for years and plans on wearing them at the Paralympics next month in Tokyo.
Sharing a screenshot of a note on her phone, Breen said:
I have been wearing the same style sprint briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in. I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo. It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticised. I hope no other female athletes had similar issues.
Detailing the conversation between herself and the championships official, Breen told Good Morning Britain today, July 21, ‘I just finished the competition. I was really happy, just having a chat with my teammate and the official came up to me and said: ‘Can I talk to you Olivia?’ And I said: ‘Sure, what’s up?”
It was then that the official expressed her concerns about the athlete’s briefs and advised that she started wearing shorts instead.
— oliviabreen (@BreenOlivia) July 18, 2021
My first reaction was ‘are you joking?’ And she was like, ‘no, I think you should buy a pair of shorts’. I’ve been an athlete for nine years and I’ve never been told ‘that’s too revealing’ or ‘that’s inappropriate’. It’s ridiculous.
She further explained that some of her fellow, male competitors had their shirts off while competing during the heatwave at the weekend, but this wasn’t seen as an issue.
In light of the incident, Breen is filing an official complaint with England Athletics.
In a statement to The Guardian, the official sporting body said, ‘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.’
The incident comes at the same time Norway’s women’s handball team received a fine for refusing to wear bikini bottoms.
The all-female sports team wanted to wear shorts inside of briefs, and received a €1,500 (£1,295) fine as a consequence.
People online have since argued that there shouldn’t be so much focus on what sportswomen wear.