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Somehow, despite the increasing number of cases, rising temperatures and a lot of cardboard beds, we made it through half of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
This edition of the Games has already welcomed new sports, sparked international mental health discussions and seen a number of roller coaster appearances. Last week, a 13-year-old skateboarder named Momiji Nishiya became the youngest gold medalist since 1936. This week Novak Djokovic missed the Golden Slam and smashed his racket.
The point is that for an event that almost didn’t happen (and maybe shouldn’t) it was great fun to watch. And for those of us who tend to write about equipment, taking stock of the shoes that the world’s best athletes skate, sprint, and serve was especially fun.
Performance shoes are more important today than ever. Fast spikes have turned the record books in the world of running upside down, while modern design updates – for team sports like basketball and soccer, and individual sports like skateboarding and golf – have made the game safer and more stylish for the competitors at the same time.
Fortunately, this is an action that you can actually take part in. Below we have compiled the preferred shoe of 10 different male Olympians in 10 different disciplines. From Kevin Durant’s Nike basketball kicks to the New Balance racers who helped little-known Alex Yee win two medals in triathlon this week, we have it all for you.
Photo by Dan Mullan / Getty Image
The 26-year-old skateboarder will leave Tokyo without a medal – he finished seventh in the “Street” event last week as the games hosted skateboarding for the first time this year – but with 10 advertising deals and over four million followers, he remains the face of the sport . His signature Nike shoe is representative of how the shoes of sport have changed over the years: less canvas and “puff”, more mesh and athletic lines.
Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP via Getty Images
Kipchoge is the greatest marathon runner the world has ever seen, but his legacy will always be linked to the responsive shoe revolution of running. Since he was in Berlin in less than two hours, the industry has seen non-stop releases of hyper-fast shoes. Does he need the extra tech to win? Probably not. But this Friday in Sapporo he’ll be wearing Nike’s Alphafly NEXT% Flyknits – carbon plates, comfortable footbed and everything.
Photo by Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
Layered mesh, metatarsal straps, a whole load of bragging rights … the latest generation of Durant’s signature shoe suits the NBA’s most seasoned active scorer. If you want to step up your Saturday hoops performances, bring home a couple. Just make sure it’s your actual size; Durant has this weird thing that he likes to play in shoes that are a size too big. It probably cost him Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks and will just give you bubbles. The star striker can redeem himself for Team USA goes for gold this week.
Photo by Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
The American record in the mile still alludes to him, but Centrowitz is arguably the greatest middle-distance runner the nation has ever produced. Like almost everyone on their turn in the 1,500-meter race this week, he will be wearing Nike’s much-touted ZoomX Dragonfly track spikes. They contain a carbon plate (like the NEXT% running shoes) and have been sold out everywhere for months. Luckily for you, we found couples at Eastbay.
Photo by Dan Mullan / Getty Images
The man who ended Novak Djokovic’s dream of a golden slam. Zverev, a 24-year-old from Germany, defeated world number one and then Karen Khachanov from Russia to bring home the gold and round off what was by far the best week of his professional career. He did this while wearing the Adizero Ubersonic 4s, the latest in the brand’s most popular line of tennis shoes. The Tokyo edition is a bit small in size at the moment, but three other color options are available.
Photo by Jean Catuffe / Getty Images
The Italian, who was born in El Paso, just ran the fastest 100 meters in European history and, after Usain Bolt’s 12-year dominance of the track, won the first sprint gold. Literally nobody saw this coming – Jacobs had broken less than 10 seconds until the beginning of the year. He crossed the finish line in Nike Air Zoom Maxflys. The same carbon technology that takes over medium and long-distance events is now used for shorter events; until other brands catch up, Nike’s pair is the top of the range.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images
Another athlete who just got the best win of his professional career. The 27-year-old is the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in golf since 1900. He did so after scoring a 67 on his final round, which was enough to beat Slovak Rory Sabbatini in one stroke on the final hole. Schauffele is sponsored by Adidas and wears the brand’s ZG21 golf shoes, which have a waterproof upper and a Boost midsole. If you want the All-American colorway you can find it here. (Unsurprisingly, the size is very limited on this style.)
Photo by Toru Hanai / Getty Images
After a summer with the European Championship, the Copa America and the Concacaf Gold Cup, you may have forgotten that international football still has to offer. For the men, the Tokyo competition is essentially a youth tournament – teams are limited to players under 24 (born on or after January 1, 1997), with a maximum of three players being overaged. However, there is still some serious talent left, especially with the Brazilian team. Budding Everton star Richarlison scored a hat trick against Germany last week. His boots? Nike’s Mercurial Vapor 14 Elite FGs. A mouthful to say but a handful in the square.
Photo by Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile via Getty Images
More carbon! The 23-year-old Yee won silver in the men’s triathlon last Monday, rested for four days and won gold in the mixed triathlon relay with his three British teammates on Saturday. According to top triathlon analysts (who are very many, believe it or not) he wasn’t expected to do that well. But its X-factor is its running speed; He previously ran 5 km under 13:30. As long as he’s within striking distance of swimming and cycling, he has a chance. Yee makes up for that ground in New Balance’s newest carbon-coated shoe, the FuelCell RC Elite v2.
Photo by Mustafa Yalcin / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Swimmers actually wear shoes – when they go on the podium. Nike has outfitted medal-winning American athletes with their new FlyEase sneaker, a springy, laceless slip-on because “the world’s greatest athletes don’t have much time to get from their event to the medal stand”. It’s a smart way to do organic marketing on a shoe that you’ve obviously put a lot of thought and resources into. (FlyEase is part of Nike’s Move to Zero campaign and is made in part from recycled materials.) Murphy has been photographed wearing these shoes a few times now – he has won three medals in those games.
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