Olivia Breen, a two-time Paralympic world champion, said a volunteer official called her sprinting shorts “too short and inappropriate” at the English Championships.
Breen, 24, said she was left “speechless” after a female official made the remark at the English Championships after she finished the long jump competition on Sunday. She said she hopes no other athletes were made to feel uncomfortable at the games.
“I have been wearing the same style spring 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 criticized,” Breen said in a statement.
“I recognize 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.”
England Athletics did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.
Breen, who has cerebral palsy, won gold for the 4 x 100m relay race at the 2015 IPC World Championships. She also took home gold at the world championships for the T38 long jump in 2017. She also won bronze at the 2012 London Paralympics.
She plans to represent the United Kingdom in the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics. After speaking out on Sunday, many athletes came to Breen’s defense on social media.
“Someone please tell me how this is right,” British para-athlete Olivia Gallagher tweeted. “It’s nowhere near right for officials to comment on clothing. Females should be able to wear what makes them comfortable without any form of judgment!”
Polly Maton, a British Paralympian, said athletes should be able to wear whatever makes them feel comfortable. “Female athletes should be able to wear what makes THEM feel comfortable to perform (and what sports manufacturers have designed for us, largely out of our control) regardless of what is deemed ‘improper’ as informed by the male gaze,” Maton tweeted.