Paralympian says official at England track championships said her shorts were too short, 'inappropriate'

A Paralympic athlete who's qualified to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Games says she was left "speechless" after being told by an official at the English Championships on Sunday that her competition shorts were too short.

Olivia Breen says a female official made the comment after she competed in the long jump competition. She wrote about the incident on social media on Sunday.

"I feel quite disappointed because just as I finished my long jump competition at the English Championships, one of the female officials felt it necessary to inform me that my sprint briefs were too short and inappropriate," Breen wrote. "I was left speechless. I have been wearing the same style sprint briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in. …

"It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticized."

Here something I felt like sharing that’s happened to me today at my competition @EnglandAthleticpic.twitter.com/QlYfPDmxEV

— oliviabreen (@BreenOlivia) July 18, 2021

Breen filing official complaint, tweets photo of offending gear

Breen told The Guardian that she was wearing official Adidas briefs that are part of her track uniform. She plans to file a formal complaint with UK Athletics over the comment. 

She followed up on social media on Monday, thanking her followers for their support alongside a photograph of herself from Sunday wearing her competition gear.

Thank you everyone for all your lovely supportive messages and I’m sorry to hear that it has happened to so many other people. 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 pic.twitter.com/rnTPoTxGAz

— oliviabreen (@BreenOlivia) July 19, 2021

Breen, 24, won a bronze medal in the 4×100 relay at the London Paralympics in 2012. She's since won a world championship gold medal in 4×100 competition in 2015 and another in the long jump in 2017. She has cerebral palsy, a disorder that impacts a person's motor functions and ability to control his or her muscles. 

English Athletics responds

An English Athletics spokesperson told The Guardian that it was looking into Breen's complaint in a statement.

“We are aware of the post and will be investigating as a matter of urgency," the statement reads. "The wellbeing of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport.”

Breen wrote that she understands guidelines, but that it's not an officials' place to make a competitor feel uncomfortable about her appearance.

"Women should not be made to feel self-conscious about what they are wearing when competing, but should feel comfortable and at ease."

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