By: Emyle Stansberry
This year’s Olympic gymnastics competition, leotards were custom made to be more patriotic like they used to be in the past. Mary Lou Retton, a 1984 gold medalist, wore an American flag designed leotard. However, the last few recent years the uniform’s designs have not be very themed towards one’s country.
In Rio, Simone Biles (gold medalist) and Aly Raisman (silver medalist), brought back the American flag themed leotards.
“I think costuming and uniforming can help make that memorable moment more memorable,” said Johnny Weir, an Olympic figure skater.
Online, there were fans creating polls on Twitter, “who wore it better.” The flag designs won, while the unpatriotic designs were the least popular.
The teams all wear the same leotards whether they are at official practices, qualifying rounds or team finals. Every little detail matters when it comes to the wardrobe. Points will be deducted if they do not match or the neck and leg lines are not at the required measurements. However, for individual competitions the gymnasts choose from their selected set and pick one they feel will advance their performance.
“ I think it is very cool they can pick a leotard in their own design for the individual competition,” said senior Carson Sain. “ It’s really great that they are supporting our country with themed leotards as well.”
This year, Gabby Douglas wore bejeweled metallic pink designed by Ralph Lauren and did not wear the flag based design. Martha Karolyi, the national team coordinator designs the leotards to not clash with the light colored mats and tries to make the gymnasts feel confident when they perform.
The past few years the trend of crystal studded leotards have increased, as in 2008 Nastia Liukin wore a leotard with 184 crystals, and this year, 2016 team USA wore leotards with 5,000 crystals for each individual. On the Insider Kelly McKeon, a designer executive for one of the Team USA’s outfitters said, “We may have hit peak crystal. It’s difficult for me to imagine how we could get more crystals on.”
Caption- Shawn Johnson, a retired USA olympian, shows off her beaded, red leotard.