Puma calls the track and field kit designed for the Jamaican Olympic team a celebration of the “Jamaican physique.” Or maybe it was simply a design to pay homage to the speed of Usain Bolt.
Bolt’s kit features the black, green and yellow of the Jamaican flag, with heavy emphasis on the yellow on top and the black on the bottom. ACTV taping is placed along the inside of the kit to micro-massage muscles for better support and energy return, and bonded seams and compression keep the entire kit tight. The six-way stretch knit allows for graduated compression.
The women’s version was designed as a two-piece kit, featuring black-and-yellow bottoms combined with a green top.
“When you’re working on performance wear like this, of course you are looking at the top athletes, how they move, what sorts of strains they put their bodies under and so much more,” says Thom Baker, Puma creative director for performance apparel, “you’re looking at them as incredible idols, but also you’re looking at them and thinking about how you can help them maximize their potential.”
Bolt, Jamaica’s most decorated Olympian with six gold medals, is competing in his final Games in Rio. Prepping for the races, though, is never an easy road with injuries a constant concern.
“I am always confident in my ability when I am able to train injury free,” Bolt says. “Unfortunately, I always seem to pick up some injuries but right now I am feeling good and ready to go in Rio.”
As Bolt has gotten older, he says he has had to change his habits, such as choosing vegetables as a pre-race meal instead of chicken nuggets. “I love racing but don’t like training,” he says. “Training is hard. I have to credit my coach and team for constantly motivating me to keep working hard in training to produce the results in races.”
While Bolt can handle running 150s in training, he says the long reps, such as 300s, are his least favorite, preferring to run “short and fast.”
Bolt says his primary focus in Rio is on winning medals—specifically three more of the gold variety for Jamaica—but he feels capable of breaking records too, especially in the 200 meters. The opportunity to retain both the 100 and 200 titles for a third straight time drives him too.
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“I think it will make me a legend, an even bigger one than I already am,” he says. “I feel very privileged to be in the position to attempt this. It will be something that is talked about forever.”
Puma will also outfit Barbados, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada and Switzerland, all with similar designs that boldly display each country’s colors.
Tim Newcomb covers sports aesthetics—stadiums to sneakers—and training for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.