The bar for spikes was set sky high by Michael Johnson running into history sporting Nikes at the Atlanta Olympic Games, where he clocked 19.32 seconds in 200-meters and won gold in the 400-meters. Millions still remember Johnson’s custom spikes, and that’s exactly why Nike customized the shoes for him.
Sneakers are more than functional footwear. They need to feel good, look good. They represent our individual style and taste.
Shoemakers have long battled for the Chinese market, but the Beijing Olympics are the battle ground for bitter rivals, Nike and Adidas. The Chinese market, made up of mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, is the second largest market in the world and is worth a whopping $1 billion a year in sales.
Nike is hedging their bets on Asafa Powell. They imprinted his feet and studied his running style to deliver the lightest and strongest kicks ever for the 100-meter world record holder.
Powell will wear a different shoe at meets before the Olympics. The prototype will be tweaked after each meet leading up to the Beijing Games, and then Nike will present Powell with the final pair just before the opening ceremony.
Whew! What color will the shoe be? Will they sport the black and yellow Jamaican colors?
Adidas is also betting hard on Beijing and paid roughly $80 million to win the Beijing sponsorship, in addition to sponsoring elite athletes such as Allyson Felix and Jeremy Wariner. The German shoe company is also spending millions on the “Impossible is Nothing” ad blitz and is opening about two stores a day in China.
While not an official Olympic Games sponsor, Nike is spending millions sponsoring 22 of the 28 competing Chinese federations.
The athletic apparel companies promise this to be the biggest Olympics ever, and it is almost guaranteed to be the most commercial ever. It will be interesting to see who wears the illest gear, while throwing down the most memorable feats.
By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist