The official kit for members of this year’s British Winter Olympics team was this evening unveiled at Somerset House, London. The names of a further 19 athletes who will be competing at Vancouver 2010 were also announced in what Adam Parsons, Director of Communications for the British Olympic Association (BOA), called “an important day for Team GB”.
With 17 days to go before the Olympic opening ceremony, the Addidas kit was showcased on the Somerset House ice rink. Modelled by members of Team GB, it consisted of red long-sleeved bodysuits with Union Jacks emblazoned over the hips and arms.
The presentation followed a display of special lighting effects never seen before in the UK. The 3D projections at times simulated falling snow or the stone facade crumbling to pieces, as well as video footage from previous winter Olympics.
In the 26th year of their partnership with the BOA, Addidas will supply over 17,000 units of kit. New technology designed to assist the athlete’s performance includes body temperature regulation and powerbands that focus muscle energy to help with acceleration. The kit also includes super-grip Luge shoes, knee-high boot covers made form eco-friendly materials and Union Jack beanie hats.
Many of the designs were trialled in wind tunnel to ensure their suitability for extreme weather conditions. Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: “It is this attention to detail which we hope will give our athletes a competitive advantage.”
Speed Skating competitor Jon Eley, 25, said: “Getting the kit makes it seem a bit more real now.” Eley came fifth in the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino but tonight was confident about achieving greater success this year. “I believe I can come home with a medal now,” he said.
Eley is one of the further 19 athletes drawn from four different sports who join the existing team of 43. There are expected to be around 50 competitors from across six sports when the final line up for Team GB is announced this Friday. It will be the largest British Winter Olympics team since the 1992 Games in Albertville, France.
Nicola Minichiello, who will compete in Bobsleigh, explained: “There’s a real buzz in the team this year. Every single day of the last four years has been building towards this so it’s not just about participating. We can go there and dominate.”
Sir Clive Woodward OBE, former rugby union coach and current Director of the BOA, also rated the team’s chances of success. “We’re a long way from where we were with Beijing in 2008. We’re going to Vancouver with a lot of genuine medal chances,” he said.
He added that the Winter Olympics were part of a journey towards 2012. “Better never stops,” he continued, “our aspirations are now to build on what we achieved in Turin in 2006.”
This year’s Team GB has been described as boasting “a wonderful mixture of potential and experience” by Hunt. One of the youngest is cross-country skier Andrew Young, who will turn 18 during the Winter Olympics, while more experienced competitors include men’s curling champion Pete Smith, 45, who has four previous world titles.
The Games will be split between two venues: Vancouver city and the resort of Whistler.