Tracksuit tenders must fall

Tracksuit tenders must fall

South Africa’s Olympians did us proud but their baggy ‘ninja turtle’ tracksuits were a fashion fail made in China. Let’s face it, Tracksuitgate was a bit of a Sascoc-up.

Tracksuit tenders must fall

Team South Africa has returned home from Rio to a rapturous reception and a nation’s pride is overflowing. But there was one embarrassing aspect detracting from our Olympic glory: those tracksuits.

We were first introduced to these sack-like garments at the opening ceremony. They reminded me of my high school tracksuit circa 20 years ago, only uglier. Heck, you could find something more stylish at Pep Stores. That radioactive green and yellow… just no. Some said our athletes looked like ninja turtles. To me they looked like giant mielie cobs.

I was flabbergasted that SA’s kit was later named one of the best at the ceremony. International media described it as ‘retro’ – perhaps they thought it was some sort of ironic statement. As far as I’m aware, it wasn’t. In fact, I can safely say no hipsters were harmed in the making of those outfits.

Now, I realise our priority in terms of funding is performance, not image, but it would have been good to see us wearing something with more of a South African flavour to the opening ceremony, like the Lesotho athletes in their Basotho hats. Then again, perhaps that tracksuit was the perfect national symbol – proudly South African; made in China.

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula and Sascoc have received huge public backlash over the decision to have the tracksuits sponsored by Chinese company 361 Degrees rather than a local manufacturer. As one Twitter user told Mbalula: “Tracksuit tenders must fall.” Another wrote: “Whoever got the tender to do Team SA kit/Tracksuits needs to #paybackthemoney.”
Tu Fan and Chad le ClosThe opening ceremony is one thing but for heaven’s sake, this is what our champions had to wear on the winner’s podium. I mean, these are athletes in peak physical condition – it seems a shame to hide their physiques in oversized attire.

Britain’s kit was designed by Stella McCartney – why can’t one of our talented local designers create something special? We’re not expecting, gold-inlaid, diamond-encrusted robes. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. Something smart and flattering, is that too much to ask? National pride is at stake here!

The sports minister himself has admitted the tracksuits were a major fail. “No swag for team SA at the Olympics. This should never happen again. Our athletes deserve better,” Mbalula tweeted.

A bit of a Sascoc-up, considering we had four years to prepare for this. Let’s hope we’ve learned our lesson and that we won’t see the sequel to Tracksuitgate at Tokyo 2020.