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Nike’s ZoomX Dragonfly Shoe Design Accused Of Making Olympics Unfair
By Alexa Heah, 06 Aug 2021
Image via Nike
Karsten Warholm (Norway), Tokyo Olympics’ 400M Hurdle gold medalist, has brought attention to his rival’s shoes, saying it gave silver medalist Rai Benjamin (USA) a leg up.
While Warholm has worked with Puma and the Mercedes F1 Team to engineer his own spikes, he didn’t seem to appreciate that Benjamin wore Nike’s ZoomX Dragonfly sneakers for the race. He still agreed the race was “best race in Olympic history,” with both athletes breaking world records during the race.
According to the New York Post, Warholm said Benjamin “had those things in his shoes, which I hate,” that allowed him to run “on air.”
The Nike shoes are famed for being among the fastest shoes around, with a special Pebax foam integrated into the sprint spike. Other athletes, such as Mo Farah, Letesenbet Giday, Joshua Cheptegei, and Sifan Hassan, have all broken race records while donning the sneakers, as reported by Input.
Image via Nike
Warholm’s shoes include an upper carbon plate in the sole and weigh only 135g (0.3lbs), but the athlete says they’re not the same as Nike’s “super spike.” The brand’s site describes the sneakers as “light and breathable with a bounce to every step,” saying they would help runners “stand out in races from 1,500 to 10,000 meters.”
While he’s all for technology creating better running shoes, he says it should be kept “down to a level where [runners] can compare results because that is important,” essentially implying that Benjamin’s results were incomparable due to his Nike kicks.
“I don’t see why you should put anything beneath a sprinting shoe. In middle distance I can understand it because of the cushioning. If you want cushioning, you can put a mattress there. But if you put a trampoline I think it’s bulls***, and I think it takes credibility away from our sport,” Warholm added, as per the New York Post.
Benjamin disagreed with his competitor’s assessment, saying the conditions of the track – not his sneakers – aided him to a second-place finish. He responded to the accusation, saying he “could wear different shoes and still run fast.”
Though Nike has been embroiled in various controversies this year, from its USPS-themed sneakers to its current squabble with NBA basketballer Kyrie Irving, this bit of controversy could actually be positive for the sportswear giant. As per Input, most of the brand’s ZoomX Dragonfly spikes are now sold out.
As athletes find new ways to incorporate technology into their sporting goods, where should prestigious events like the Olympics draw the line? For now, it doesn’t seem the competition will move to ban Nike’s ZoomX sneakers, though this may push it to take a closer look at shoe regulations for races.
[via Input, cover image via Nike]
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