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Indigenous art takes pride of place on Olympic uniforms

Steve Larkin -

Australia has launched its Olympic uniforms for the looming Paris Games featuring the largest-ever splashes of Indigenous artwork.

Paul Fleming, an Indigenous Australian from Wakka Wakka Wanyurr Majay, Yuggera Country who boxed for Australia at the 2008 Olympics, was instrumental in creating the Indigenous aspects of the uniforms.

Fleming teamed with Torres Strait Islander artist David Bosun to create the designs to be worn by Australia's athletes and officials at the Paris Olympics starting in late July.

Every piece of the Olympic uniforms, launched in Sydney on Thursday, features Australian sport's green and gold colour scheme and incorporates an Indigenous print.

Fleming's artwork, titled Walking Together, features prominently and signifies the Olympics as a meeting place.

"The centrepiece represents a meeting place because the Olympics brings together people of all colours, religions and backgrounds from all over the world who are all competing for the same goal," Fleming said.

"Everyone essentially becomes 'one' - we're all athletes and it doesn't matter where you come from."

Australia's chef de mission Anna Meares said the "world-class" uniforms would take Australia's Indigenous themes to a global audience.

"This is the first time the Australian Olympic team will have Indigenous design across its competition and delegation so it's a really impressive milestone, it's exciting," Meares said.

The Australian team will wear green and gold uniforms emblazoned with Indigenous artwork in Paris. (Image: Bianca De Marchi/AAP Photos)

"To have the artists work with the athletes ... has been a great process and one that has bought great collaboration and a uniform that everyone is  proud of.

"The whole look good, feel good, go good thing, to me, is a really strong mantra for an athlete.

"And if you can cover off the first two which is look good, feel good, that go good should look after itself."

The apparel also incorporates a Japonism Yagasuri - an arrow pattern signifying strength, steadfastness, and determination - in a nod to the Japanese heritage of uniform provider ASICS.

The uniforms have also been tailored specifically to the needs of individual athletes in different sports.

"Feeling comfortable in a uniform is really critical," said Meares, a triple Olympic cyclist.

"We're looking to have upto 480 athletes on the team from Paris and those bodies are all different ... there are little nuances that each athlete and each sport requires.

"To be given the green and gold uniform, for the first time putting that on I felt like I was wearing Superman's cape.

"I felt like I was stronger than I ever had been - I'm only five foot four but I felt like I was six foot tall.

"And with this uniform comes a reputation for the Australian Olympians that we are revered and respected on the international sporting scene and there's real pride in earning the right to wear this."


Steve Larkin - AAP


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