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Paralympian 'speechless' after England official criticizes 'inappropriate' briefs

Olivia Breen a British Paralympic track athlete, said a female official criticised her for wearing inappropriate briefs at the English Champions on Sunday in Bedford, England. Photo by Dean Lewins/EPA-EFE
Olivia Breen a British Paralympic track athlete, said a female official criticised her for wearing "inappropriate" briefs at the English Champions on Sunday in Bedford, England. Photo by Dean Lewins/EPA-EFE

July 20 (UPI) -- Paralympic track athlete Olivia Breen, who will represent Great Britain this summer in Tokyo, said she filed a complaint with England Athletics after a female official called her competition briefs "inappropriate."

Breen, a 24-year-old with cerebral palsy, said Sunday on social media that the incident left her "speechless." She said the interaction occurred after the long jump competition Sunday at the English Championships in Bedford.

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She told Sky News on Tuesday that she submitted a complaint and that England Athletics is investigating the incident. An England Athletics spokesperson told The Guardian they are investigating the incident "as a matter of urgency."

"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 spokesperson told The Guardian.

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United Kingdom Athletics rules for competition state that athletes "must wear clothing which is clean, and designed and worn so as not to be objectionable."

"I am always grateful for the incredible volunteers who officiate at athletics events," Breen wrote Sunday on Twitter and Instagram.

"They do an amazing job and make it possible for us to compete. However, [Sunday] 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.

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"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 criticized."

The Adidas-made briefs are part of her official track uniform. Breen said she plans to wear the same briefs at the Paralympic Games from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5 in Tokyo. She said she has won the same type of briefs for nine years.

"It's disappointing to see her judged on anything but her athletic performance," an Adidas spokesperson told CNN. "We fully endorse her comments and hope they are taken onboard by the event organizers."

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The Paralympian spoke about the incident Monday and Tuesday on several English news networks and thanked her supporters on social media. She also posted a photo of herself in the briefs.

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

"Some people have asked what I was competing in [Sunday] so here is a picture. I don't think it is 'objectionable' within the United Kingdom Athletics regulations."

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Breen won a bronze medal in the 4x100 relay at the 2021 Paralympics in London. She is a two-time Paralympian world champion.

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