The “Final Five” took to the mat, balance beams, and all the gymnastics events in Rio donned in red, white, and blue, with all the bedazzle and sequins befitting the Gold medalists they became.
But who would have known those patriotic leotards were conceptualized and created locally in Reading, Pennsylvania?
GK Elite Sportswear, a Berks County business for more than 35 years, is a production company known for gymnastics and cheer gear. Lead designer and Reading native Jeanne Douglass was inspired by the flag for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team.
“I wanted to use it as literally as possible, but also highlighting their bodies,” Douglass said.
A former gymnast herself, Douglass was blown away seeing Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian wear her design at the Summer Games. The designer wrote on Facebook:
“Many years of hard work, perseverance, and dedication have lead to this moment. My dream of watching my leotard design on Team USA during the Olympic Team Final competition has come true!”
The Olympics have become a tradition for GK Elite. The company faces a monumental task every four years of forming the perfect fitting, patriotic uniform for gymnasts from the Netherlands, Russia and New Zealand, but Douglass says nothing quite compares to dressing your home team.
The entire warehouse is part of the production and careful craftsmanship of the garments.
There's Kira Feick, a laser supervisor at GK Elite, who attaches the sparkling crystals onto the nylon.
“It’s amazing knowing you helped make that beautiful garment that the gymnasts were wearing when they won gold,” Feick said.
“I was really excited to watch it on TV. Because everyone in this building really had a part in making those leotards look amazing,” Douglass said.