Usually Nike's collaborative projects are more salient in the streets than they are in actual athletic arenas. Such is not the case for the latest from the Nike Gyakusou collection, a longstanding partnership created in conjunction with Japanese designer Jun Takahashi that found itself on the finish line at the USATF Olympic Trials on Sunday in Eugene, Ore.
Sprinter Allyson Felix, a Nike athlete who already has six Olympic medals to her name, wore a one-off Gyakusou version of the Zoom Superfly Flyknit spike while emerging victorious in the women's 400m race. Felix locked up a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a dramatic finish in a speedy 49.68 seconds.
Nike created two exclusive Gyakusou spikes for Felix—one in the black/gold pictured and another in white/blue—to complement her apparel in the summer's competitions.
The presence of Gyakusou gear at the Olympic Trials is a reminder of how much its intention is rooted in creator Takahashi's passion for running. From the start it's been adapted for lifestyle purposes, but Takahashi is a real runner tackling design problems for athletes like himself with these creations. Others have taken note—celebrated author and marathoner Haruki Murakami said he runs in Gyakusou in a 2015 interview.
The Zoom Superfly Flyknit, unveiled by Nike at the brand's 2016 innovation summit, was made specifically for the 200 and 400-meter sprints. Felix contributed athlete insights that informed the design of the model while meeting with researchers at Nike’s Sports Research Lab.
"One of the things that I love about the process is that I'm not an expert in this, but I have all this science behind me. This is what [Nike] does and this is what they're passionate about," said Felix at the shoe's introduction in March. "I can have confidence that they're going to give me the best equipment."
Felix will take to the track at the USATF Olympic Trials again on Friday for the first round of the women's 200m at 6:30 p.m. EDT.