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The World’s Best Athletes: A Source of Inspiration and Information

At Nike, the word athlete comes with an asterisk. It refers to a phrase coined by company co-founder Bill Bowerman, one that offers power in its message of inclusion: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” This focus on all athletes, everywhere, continues to guide Nike’s approach to designing footwear and apparel.

Nike currently partners with more than 300 professional female athletes and hundreds of teams across a wide array of sports globally. These athletes have stood on the tallest Olympic podiums and held the most coveted trophies. They are the best of the best and have always been an invaluable source of information and inspiration for Nike designers. When considering any new product innovation, designers challenge themselves with a simple question: “Will this make the athlete better?”

“Athlete insights are absolutely critical to our design process,” says Julie Igarashi, Vice President of Global Design for Nike Women’s Training. “We listen to what she needs and study how she moves. This information translates into performance products that help our global community of athletes move more and move better.”


Nike’s elite female athletes can be found everywhere, from the mountains of Norway to the beaches of Brasil. And it’s on the sand of Rio de Janeiro where two Nike athletes are gearing up to tackle the world’s best in the summer of 2016.

Sisters Maria Clara and Carolina Salgado are beach volleyball teammates who aim to represent their host country Brasil in the next summer games. The Salgados are inseparable, a daunting prospect for opponents. The pair won its first Grand Slam gold last year in Moscow. So far in 2014, the sisters have six top top-ten finishes in ten starts.

For Maria Clara and Carolina, volleyball is a family affair. Their coach is their mother, a former professional player herself. The sisters were encouraged to explore other activities when they were young. But ultimately, beach volleyball proved irresistible.

The footwear and apparel featured on Maria Clara and Carolina Salgado are from the Nike Women’s Spring 2015 collection. Product from this collection will be available in select retailers and on beginning in January.

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