Athletes hit out over Team GB's 'no flag' kit


Olympic champion long-jumper Greg Rutherford has made an impassioned protest about the lack of a Union flag on the Great Britain team's kits for the World Championships.

The star led the backlash against British Athletics when he posted an image of his vest on Twitter and questioned why the national flag was not featured.

Today he issued a statement explaining the reasons for his dissatisfaction, saying that within sport, there can be many different personalities, from a wide range of upbringings, cultures and class.

"But the one thing that brings us together is the desire to compete for our country - without our national flag worn proud on our bodies during competition, we diminish the very nature of who we are representing and what makes sport great."

A host of present and former Team GB stars, including Dame Kelly Holmes, have backed Rutherford, who won gold on Super Saturday at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The athletics kit for the upcoming competition in Beijing is a mostly blue jersey featuring the words "Great Britain" and the British Athletics and Nike logos on a large white "V" at the top.

Rutherford said: "Well this isn't right ... Where's the Union Jack!?!? BritAthletics (this is the kit for worlds)."

He said in the statement: "The lack of the Union Jack on our national kit begins to erode the very reason we are competing, and this is reflected in the outcry from every single athlete I have spoken to since the kit was revealed, from retired legends of our sport to upcoming juniors.

"The flag is a crucial symbol of why we are competing; not for fame, not for money, not for an administrative body, but for Great Britain. We go out on a world stage to represent this amazing union, and this is what drives us to achieve our very best."

He added: "Ironically, the kit Nike have manufactured for British Athletics on this occasion is in material terms the best I have ever worn, better even than the London 2012 kit. It's well made, comfortable, and provides everything one needs in terms of a purely functional piece of performance clothing."

British Athletics has not responded directly to Rutherford but did retweet an Instagram post from hurdler Cindy Ofili, who wrote: "Excited to have finally received my first full British Kit!! Thanks britishathletics".

But Paralympic champion David Weir added his voice to the Twitter storm, replying to Rutherford: "We all put the kit on for the flag. And I couldn't see any other country do it."

Steeplechaser Eilish McColgan added: "It's unfair for athletes not supported by UKA to have to wear it ... Doesn't make any sense! Bring back the flag!"

Paralympic shot-putter Sam Ruddock also joined in the condemnation, tweeting: "It's such a shame. The flag says so much, to so many people, more than a brand ever could."

Dame Kelly, a double Olympic champion at Athens in 2004, said: "Totally agree. The Union Jack is iconic."