Leos are leotards. It's what the gymnasts call their colorful competition gear.
This year leos have an extra dimension achieved with thousands of Swarovski crystals. The Austrian sparklers are hand-applied to custom-made suits making them the couture garments of Olympic uniforms.
When the U.S. team won their gold medals Tuesday night they were in custom made $500 red leos made for them by GK Elite, a Pennsylvania-based company that makes competition wear for teams from many countries.
The U.S. team's offical Olympic outfitter is Adidas who makes their warm up suits and other pieces of apparell but when they are under the bright lights they are in competition leotards by GK Elite.
The designs for the U.S. gymnastic team began 18 months ago, before the team was even chosen says Kelly McKeown via e-mail from London. She is executive vice president of design and corporate relations for GK Elite and is in the London stands watching her leo designs in action. Most of them are made of a compression fabric called Mystique that has a high surface sheen that accentuates its reflective qualitites. Compression fabric gives support and adds muscle definition.
The company dresses the top level athletes, men and women, and many future Olympic gymnasts. Their catalog is filled with designs from giants in the field such as Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. For any 8 year-old dreamers who want a replica red leo there will be a retail version of the gold medal leotard worn by the Fierce Five very soon says McKeown. Find them at www.gkelite.com.
They won't have the 4000 hand applied crystals. Which is not extravagent by competition standards says McKeown. The gymnastics team for Great Britain has a leo with 18,000 cystals which pushed the price to $1200.
Each member of the U.S. team has eight new leotards for the competition and 12 for practice. Last night Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas wore another GK Elite leotard for the individual all-around competition. The red violet leo with crystals proved to be as golden for Douglas as the red one.