Team GB Paralympian Olivia Breen said she was left “disgusted” after an England Athletics official told her that her sprint uniform was “inappropriate” and “too revealing” at the England Championships over the weekend.
Breen has been wearing the same style of competition briefs that she has worn for the duration of her nine-year career.
“I just finished my last long jump competition before [Paralympic] selection,” Breen told ESPN. “This official came up to me and said to me: ‘Can I speak to you?’ And she just said, ‘I think your briefs are too revealing. I think you should consider buying some shorts.’
“I was just … I am very expressive, and I didn’t know what to say. So my response was: ‘Are you joking?’
“And she was just like: ‘No, I think you should consider buying a pair of shorts.”
Breen took to Instagram with a message.
“Thank you everyone for all your lovely supportive messages and I’m sorry to hear that it has happened to so many other people,” she said in the post. “Some people have asked what I was competing in yesterday so here is a picture. I don’t think it is ‘objectionable’ within the UKA regulations.”
Breen, who has cerebral palsy, is set to compete in the T38 long jump at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games next month.
“I felt disgusted. I was just taken by surprise and gobsmacked,” she said. “This is so wrong. We’re not living in the 18th century. Life has moved on. As an athlete, personally, I have never experienced that before.”
Breen has called for all officials to be more mindful of their comments toward athletes.
“What I would like to happen is that [officials] never make any [personal] comments to any females or males. Just accept what we’re wearing. If we’re not sticking to the rules, that’s fine. But if we’re wearing the ruled outfit, don’t say anything to us about it.
“I think England Athletics and officials need to be educated on what they can and can’t say to us.
“I didn’t realise how much of a response I would get and how much coverage I would get. I’m really glad I spoke out about it because it’s disgusting and it needs to change. They [officials] can’t do that to us.”