Several of Canada's London-bound athletes modelled their uniforms at a downtown Toronto store Tuesday, kits that include the sleek Turbospeed suits that feature dimples on the shoulders and hips meant to mimic the aerodynamic indents in golf balls.
"Any little split-second can help," said sprinter Justyn Warner of Markham, Ont. "In a 100, any little fraction of a second can count, between bronze and a fourth-place. . .anything can count."
Nike officials say the suits — which come in both one- and two-piece options — have proven to be 0.023 seconds faster over 100 metres than the models worn at the 2008 Beijing Games.
That blink of an eye can make a significant difference in an event that saw Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh tie for third in a controversial result at the recent U.S. Olympic trials. The two were scheduled to race off for the Olympic spot before Tarmoh eventually bowed out, giving the spot to Felix.
Some 20 countries in London will be wearing the Nike suits, which are constructed of 82 per cent recycled polyester — or 12 recycled water bottles per kit.
The Canadians said the textured suits make them both look great and feel naked — in a good way.
"It feels good, the material is really nice. I feel like I'm wearing nothing, so it's kind of a like nudist throwing out there," laughed Sultana Frizell, a hammer thrower from Perth, Ont. "It feels really good."
Added hurdler Phylicia George: "At the track you want to feel like you're wearing next to nothing and I definitely feel like that when I'm on the track. It's not much, there's not many seams or anything and I feel like I'm aerodynamic, like nothing is going to hold me back when I'm on the track."
George believes looking good is key to competing with confidence.
"It's funny, because I'm such a stickler for that," said the hurdler from Markham, Ont. "I'll be on the track and I'm glammed up and my hair's done, my nail's are always done. Just having an outfit to complement that is definitely so important to me.
"I live by the mantra: look good, feel good, run fast. I think it's a confidence thing, I'm out there to perform, I have all eyes on me, so being well-put together only enhances the confidence that I have on the track."
Hurdler Nikkita Holder compared racing in the two-piece suit to performing in the traditional skin-bearing mas costumes for Caribana — Toronto's annual Caribbean carnival.
"I've been playing mas since I was five. . . it just feels like I'm playing mas and I'm enjoying it, so it works. Just a little less feathers and a little more covered up," she said, laughing.
Canada will field a 40-member track and field team in London — second-largest to the team that competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Games that was boycotted by Eastern Bloc countries — and 26 athletes to Paralympics.