With the games in Sydney this September less than 100 days away, all eyes were on the latest innovations in team apparel this week as Nike unveiled the summer games uniforms that will adorn athletes from several contending countries. More than 2,000 athletes - representing 46 sports teams from 17 different countries - will compete in Nike-designed gear. More than 50 designers at the Beaverton, Ore.-based company worked on the summer games uniforms for three years. "We met with hundreds of athletes, from sprinters to rowers to softball players, in order to make the very best product possible for the games of the millennium," said Nike Design Director Ken Black. "Nike's goal first and foremost is to make the very best products for athletic performance. But we feel it's just as important to make uniforms that stimulate the senses."

According to Black, Nike based its unique designs around the concepts: of streamline design; lightweight construction and bodymapping. During an event at the United Nations, Nike revealed a number of team looks from nations around the world, including China, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Brazil, Burundi, Finland, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Portugal and Cayman Islands. A highlight of the event was the introduction of the US Track and Field, Rowing, Softball and Women's Volleyball uniforms. It marked the first time Nike uniforms for US athletes were shown under one roof.

To create the best functioning apparel, the design team met with athletes from all the US teams, learning about their specific needs as well as their likes and dislikes. They took into account needs for staying warm or keeping cool, other environmental issues like staying dry, range of motion, and researched distractions or problems that apparel had caused the athletes in the past.

"The more we learn about the athletes, the farther it can go," noted creative director Ken Black. "We'll never run out of ideas."

While function can affect an athlete's performance, so can the athlete's frame of mind. Designers created looks with the athletes' attitudes in mind. So the rowing team will go into competition in sleek gear inspired by superheroes. Runners will appear to explode forward.

The US track team has the greatest range of apparel since athletes in specific events have different needs. Both men and women will have a choice of unitards plus many different combinations of shirts and shorts. All the pieces share a conservative navy front look while the red graphics on the back appear to explode, propelling the runner forward.

US Rowing starts with their unitards for racing but weather conditions may require short and long-sleeved shirts for layering along with wind shirts and vests for training. The basic navy unitard features a curved red, white and blue pattern mirroring the athletes' movements.

US Softball players asked for a patriotic look and got an updated one, in sophisticated rich takes on red, white and blue. Their training pieces feature a new wind-block vest and a reversible field jacket.

The US Women's Volleyball Team will play indoors in a new look, a sleeveless silhouette with a mandarin collar. The uniform's weight has been cut in half and heavy piping was removed.

The US beach volleyball uniforms reflects surf culture, especially in the board short look for men. Swirling graphics depict the water's movement. Working within the very specific rules on uniforms in that sport, Nike designers strove for functional apparel that reflects the youth and energy of the beach.

In addition to the four US teams unveiled today, Nike also showed the US Men's and Women's Soccer Teams uniforms, which were unveiled in May. Track and field apparel for seven other countries was shown, including uniforms for Burundi, Cayman Islands, Finland, Kenya, Mozambique, Morocco and Portugal. Nike Inc., headquartered in Beaverton, Ore., markets its products in more than 100 countries and is the world's leading sports and fitness company. Further information can be obtained at http://www.nikebiz.com.