(Reuters) – Jamaica’s Danusia Francis said the decision by German athletes to compete in full-body suits at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships last week was empowering for women.
Sarah Voss donned a full-body suit at the Basel event and was followed by team mates Kim Bui and Elisabeth Seitz. The German Gymnastics Association (DTB) said that the move was a stand against sexualisation in the sport.
“I think it’s amazing,” Francis, who previously represented Britain but will compete for Jamaica at this year’s Tokyo Games, told the BBC. “I feel empowered that we’ve got this option where we can choose to cover up.”
For women gymnasts, the standard competition outfit is a leotard, with long, half-length sleeved and sleeveless garments allowed.
Outfits covering legs are allowed by the gymnastics rulebook in international competitions, but to date they have been used almost exclusively for religious reasons.
“I think as people are staying in the sport longer, obviously they’re not young girls and they’ve got voices, they are women, so to see them making a statement and on an international stage … it was great to see,” Francis said.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)