Who Is Olivia Breen? Paralympian Criticized for 'Inappropriate' Shorts

A British Paralympic athlete was left "speechless" after a female official pointed out her competition briefs were "too short and inappropriate."

Olivia Breen said the incident occurred at the English Championships in Bedford on Sunday, while she competed in the long jump.

The 24-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, was wearing official Adidas briefs and suggested a male athlete would not have been singled out in the same circumstances.

Breen, who won gold at the Paralympic world championships in the 100 meters and long jump in 2015 and 2017 respectively and won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, said she was planning to wear the same shorts at the upcoming Paralympics in Tokyo in August.

"I am always grateful for the incredible volunteers who officiate at athletics events," she wrote on Twitter after the event.

"They do an amazing job and make it possible for us to compete. However, tonight I feel disappointed because just as I finished my long jump competition one of the female officials felt it necessary to inform me that my sprint briefs were too short and inappropriate. I was left speechless.

"I have been wearing the same sprint style briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in. I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo. It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticised."

Here something I felt like sharing that’s happened to me today at my competition @EnglandAthletic pic.twitter.com/QlYfPDmxEV

— oliviabreen (@BreenOlivia) July 18, 2021

Breen, who said she would submit a formal complaint to UK Athletics [UKA], added women should not be made to feel self-conscious.

"I recognise that there needs to be regulations and guidelines in relation to competition kit but women should not be made to feel self-conscious about what they are wearing when competing but should feel comfortable and at ease," she wrote on Twitter.

On Monday she tweeted a picture of the shorts she wore in the competition.

"Thank you everyone for all your lovely supportive messages and I'm sorry to hear that it has happened to so many other people," she wrote.

"Some people have asked what I was competing in yesterday so here is a picture.

"I don't think it [the briefs] is 'objectionable' within the UKA regulations."

Thank you everyone for all your lovely supportive messages and I’m sorry to hear that it has happened to so many other people. Some people have asked what I was competing in yesterday so here is a picture.

I don’t think it is “ objectionable” within the UKA regulations pic.twitter.com/rnTPoTxGAz

— oliviabreen (@BreenOlivia) July 19, 2021

England Athletics said in a statement it was aware of the complaint and it would investigate the incident.

"We are aware of the post and will be investigating as a matter of urgency," a spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

"The wellbeing of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport."

The incident came just days after players of Norway's beach handball team were fined for wearing something that resembled biker shorts as opposed to bikini bottoms at the recent European Beach Handball Championships in Bulgaria.

The International Handball Federation states that women in the beach game must wear a bikini bottom with a tight-fitting top.

"Women should wear a bikini where the top should be a tight-fitting sports bra with deep openings at the arms. The bottom must not be more than ten centimeters on the sides."

The Norwegian players, however, considered the bikini bottoms too revealing and complained they made them feel "unnecessarily sexualized and uncomfortable."

Olivia Breen
Olivia Breen competes during the Women's Long Jump Final on Day 3 of the Muller British Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on June 27 in Manchester, England. Ashley Allen/Getty Images