Team GB Paralympian Olivia Breen said she was “disgusted” after an England Athletics official told her that her sprint uniform was “inappropriate” and “too revealing” at Sunday’s England Championships.
Double world champion Breen, who suffers from cerebral palsy, will compete in the T38 long jump at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games next month.
Breen wore the same competition panties she wore during her nine year career.
“I just finished my last long jump competition before me [Paralympic] Choice, “Breen told ESPN.” This officer came up to me and said to me, ‘Can I speak to you?’ And she just said, “I think your panties are too revealing. I think you should consider buying shorts. ‘
“I was just … I’m very expressive and didn’t know what to say. So my answer was, ‘Are you kidding?’
“And she just said, ‘No, I think you should think about buying a pair of shorts.”
Breen said she was upset from the start and the more she thought about the situation, the more she felt mistreated.
“I was disgusted. I was just surprised and amazed,” she said. “That’s so wrong. We don’t live in the 18th century. Life has evolved. As an athlete, I’ve never seen that before.”
Breen, London 2012 bronze medalist in the women’s T35-T38 4×100 meter relay, said she had received a variety of messages from young women athletes saying they had seen similar comments.
“The news all said, ‘I really appreciate your voice and it happened to me. It’s great that you are using your voice and we really appreciate it,” said Breen.
“Little did I know that this had happened to so many athletes and so many young girls. Some people said it made them cry. Some people were even disqualified. That has to change!”
A spokesman for England Athletics told ESPN: “We are aware of this the post and will investigate urgently. The well-being of all athletics participants is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport. “
Breen urged all officials to be more aware of their comments to the athletes.
“What I would like to happen is that she is [officials] never do anything [personal] Comments on women or men. Just accept what we’re wearing. If we don’t follow the rules, that’s fine. But if we wear the ruler outfit, don’t tell us about it.
“I think England Athletics and officials need to be educated about what they can and cannot tell us.
“I didn’t know how much response I was going to get and how my coverage I was going to get. I’m really glad I talked about it because it’s disgusting and needs to change. You [officials] can’t do that to us. “