The onus on athletes to show up, suit up, and deliver the greatest performance of their lives at the Olympic stage is inimitable. They have to not just meet the baseline of expectation, but override the chatter and pain to surpass the confines of human limitation. The power of one is momentous, whether an athlete competes in an individual sport, like skateboarding (one of the newest additions to the Games that we’ll see firsthand at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics), or a team event, like basketball.
Because at this stage, human performance is elastic; there is no ceiling as new talent is discovered, new personal bests are unearthed, and new innovations facilitate those breakthroughs. At this stage, the power of one elevates not just the team but the country as a whole.
The Olympics provide an endless supply of inspiration and problems, says John Hoke, Nike’s chief design officer. The Games have historically uplifted and united humanity. And for a brand like Nike, every four years is a chance to innovate. Continuing the momentum from product-driven achievements in recent years (i.e. Eliud Kipchoge’s unofficial marathon time of 1:59:40 in the Nike Vaporfly 4%), Hoke says Nike’s ambitions are in the same vein for the Tokyo Summer Olympics: “Don’t be timid. Be bold. Be daring. Take action. Create the change we want to see.”
With that in mind, Nike has two tentpole goals for its 2020 Olympic gear:
- Create products that boast proven performance backed by science. For instance, they say, traditional foam provides athletes with 60-70 percent energy return. The Nike ZoomX Foam tests at around 90 percent.
- Protect the future of sport by emphasizing sustainability. Climate change impacts sports. There is no sport if we have no planet. Nike’s pledging to power their facilities with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, phase out single-use plastics at headquarters, and create more sustainably circular designs.
With that in mind, here are the 2020 Tokyo Olympics innovations from the Swoosh. You’ll see these kits, uniforms, and footwear on athletes across track and field, basketball, and skating—including some Olympics-inspired gear you can get yourself in the coming months.
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