24-year-old Paralympian Olivia Breen has been making headlines after an official told her to wear “more appropriate” shorts. We’re exploring Breen’s incredible athletic career, from learning to understand her disability to becoming a world champion athlete.
Breen has received mass amounts of support following the shorts incident.
Olivia Breen speaks about her disability
As per the Dame Vera Lynn Children Charity website, Olivia Breen has mild cerebral palsy, meaning her balance and coordination are affected. Cerebral palsy also prompts Breen to frequently make involuntary movements.
Other symptoms of mild cerebral palsy may include stiff muscles, weakness in arms or legs, problems with swallowing, and trouble talking.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy are less obvious at birth, and usually become apparent in the first few years of a child’s life.
In her bio for the Dame Vera Lynn Children Charity, the athlete opens up about her disability: “When I was little my cerebral palsy was much worse and I used to fall over all the time. I found lots of things very difficult.”
“As I have got older, my symptoms have improved and I think a lot of this improvement is down to the patience of teachers and family, my determination and sport.”
“In 2012 I was classified as a T38 athlete. This is the mildest class for people with cerebral palsy and similar conditions. Everything happened very quickly after that and I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Team GB in the 100 and 200m and the 4 x 100m relay. Amazingly we won a bronze medal in the relay and we were so happy!”
“Since then I have also started training for the long jump and incredibly last year became T38 World Champion. I was so happy as I had a terrible Rio, only achieving 12th place, so to make such an improvement in a year was tremendous.”
Olivia is now set to represent Team GB at the Tokyo Paralympics, beginning on August 24, 2021.
Why is the Paralympian making headlines?
Apart from being an incredible athlete, Breen is making headlines due to a comment made by officials regarding the length of her shorts.
Being told that her shorts were “too short and revealing”, Olivia responded: “It made me feel really angry and it’s very wrong.”
In talks with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme, Breen disclosed: “They are like high-waisted bikini bottoms. I’ve worn them for nine years, I’ve never had a problem and we should feel comfortable with what we wear.”
In support of Olivia, many have disagreed with officials and have taken to social media to defend the athlete from the backlash.
Olivia took to Instagram to thank her supporters, writing: “Thank you everyone for all your lovely supportive messages and I’m sorry to hear that it has happened to so many other people.”