Olympic Legend Carl Lewis On Nike's Revolutionary Time-Saving 'Turbospeed' Uniforms

Posted: Updated:
Print Article
CARL LEWIS_NIKE MEDIA SUMMIT
Nike

When the United States' track and field athletes run at the London Olympic games in around a month's time, they'll be wearing some of the most rigorously designed and technical outfits ever made.

Nike claims that its Turbospeed suits - made with a 'textured' feel inspired by golf balls - can shave 0.023 seconds off a 100m run.

That would have been enough to lift Walter Dix from third to second place at the Beijing Olympics.

It's making the uniforms for 20 countries - not including the UK, who have their own high-tech outfits made by Adidas.

And alongside a host of other innovations - from its full line of uniforms, a new range of training shoes with embedded sensors and its Fuelband device - Nike brought Olympic legend Carl Lewis to London to unveil the new technology and designs.

The Huffington Post was able to sit down with Carl, and chat about his hopes for London.

But first we had to ask whether gaining 0.023 seconds - or 13cm - just by wearing a uniform was good for the sport.

The new Nike Turbospeed sprinting outfit is said to shave 0.023 seconds off a 100m time. Isn't that unfair for the athletes who don't wear one?

No, not at all… Records still have to be broken. You still have to run. Technology improves, that's the nature of it, but that doesn't bother me at all.

Do you wish you'd had the chance to run in a uniform as good as that?

Well… Nike will give me one! I'm still snatched enough where I could get it on. I can't say that about all my contemporaries! Some of them it's like - woah! But I could still wear one.

Nike's put a lot of money and time into new technology, with sensors in your shoes and its Fuelband. Is that something you would have wanted growing up?

Well I like it - especially now. I think it can be useful to athletes. The GPS watches - to me that is tremendous. Before athletes had to actually go measure distances. In the off-season coach would say go run 30 minutes but don't go over a certain distance, so that's where it would have helped.

I'm not really into music, that's just my thing, but the GPS stuff and the training gear - the Fuelband and the shoes - they're even better for everyone else.

nike turbospeed

Above: The US Nike 'Turbospeed' Uniforms

What do you think about the style of the new uniforms?

I like the red, better than the blue. It's a lot brighter. It's going to stand out in a way they haven't before. The way they've been designed you'll actually be able to see them - and they all pop out!

Do you still keep your old uniforms?

Yeah I still have them, it's a funny story I kept the medals of course but I would leave the uniforms in the room where I stayed. But my mother would sweep them up - which is the only reason I still have them. When I was done I was like 'I don't need these any more' but she kept them.

Which athletes are you looking forward to seeing perform most at the Olympics?

I'm closest to Sanya Richards-Ross, and Allyson Felix, the 400m runner. There are lots of other athletes, but I'm closest to them for sure.

The Olympics has changed a lot from when I started, in the sense that a lot of those athletes are going to their second and third games. When I ran that was very rare. Sanya, it's her third games and Allyson, it's her third games as well. So the pressure is a little different.

I don't know if pressure is the right word, they're more anxious. Because it's like, we're finally here - the excitement.

How do you sense London is preparing for the games?

It always works out. That's it. I was here at the 500 day, I was able to see the construction and the Olympics always works out. There's always drama and the weather's always decent, always.

What was your perspective on the dead head and proposed 100m run-off between Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix? [Asked onstage at earlier press conference]

I feel it was pretty simple because if you go to the Olympic games and you tie for third they give two bronze medals. They both should have gone. And I the thing that bothered me was that I think they put too much on the athletes and what they really should have done is step up and say these two athletes tied, that's the rule, take them both to the Olympic Games, and that's it. I think the IOC would have done it and that's it. I think they kinda threw the athletes under the bus - that's just my opinion.