New kit could leave athletes feeling blue

Gold medal hopes Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis were among the top athletes modelling the new Team GB Olympic kit. If Britain’s hopefuls flop in London though, there will be one obvious culprit – the kit designer Stella McCartney.

That’s the suggestion of sports psychologists Robert Barton and Russell Hill of Durham University. They have taken exception to McCartney’s design because the fashion queen has taken the red out of the Union Jack. Perhaps she just looked at a black-and-white picture when working on the designs, and didn’t realise there was red in the flag.

The psychologists have conducted research that suggests that wearing red increased an athlete’s chances of victory. The statistical trend was noticeable across a range of sports.

They contend that McCartney has put aesthetics ahead of performance. "Obviously she has designed these from a fashion point of view and was not taking into account the possible effects that might have on performance," Barton told The Guardian. "Given there's an obvious justification for including red, and given the effects that we and other scientists have found, it does seem like a mistake."

Clinical sports psychologist Victor Thompson concurred. "I think that the GB Olympic designers may have missed an opportunity here to include more red in the design. This may have helped give the GB wearers a boost psychologically that would be reflected in physical performance."

The athletes seemed mostly positive about the McCartney designs, but now the psychologists might have planted some seeds of doubt, it could all end in tears. Or at least in athletes reaching for the red felt-tips to customise their kit come August.

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