Last night, after months of speculation whether its shoes will be allowed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Nike unveiled its latest performance sports product lines and introduced us to what is the next-generation of the highly debated Nike Vaporfly Series: the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%. The big news is that, as far as Nike is concerned, the new shoes will be running (and probably winning) at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
This is the commercially available version of the prototype shoes worn by Eliud Kipchoge last year when he broke the 2-hour marathon time-barrier in Vienna. They feature the latest and greatest innovations from Nike and they also look off the wall, to coin a phrase.
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The NEXT% platform, introduced by barrier-breaking marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, will now expand into new disciplines following its unparalleled success in distance running.
As well as what probably be one of the most successful long-distance running shoes to date, Nike also debuted progressive new collections featuring sustainable materials for all athletes. In-line with the public's growing concerns about the planet's future, Nike’s sustainable innovations signal the brand’s commitment to helping protect the future of the planet – and, consequently, the future of sport.
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Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% – the next generation of Nike Vaporflys
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% features three critical components, working together to help runners on race day: a full-length carbon-fibre plate which "provides stability and a smooth transition and increases stiffness in the forefoot to provide a sensation of propulsion", the Nike ZoomX cushioning, "a lightweight platform that provides optimal energy return and minimises energy loss" and the Nike Zoom Air Pods "for added cushioning, increased energy return".
Nike’s newest race-day shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% features two new Nike Zoom Air pods, more ZoomX foam and a single carbon fibre plate (all updates from its predecessor, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%), and an ultra-breathable, lightweight Flyknit upper.
More info on the shoes can be found here (opens in new tab).
Will the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% be allowed at the Olympics?
Okay, we are slightly confused over this. Nike says they will, and the sole thickness and use of only one carbon plate mean they do meet the new rules for shoe design.
However, that wasn't the only rule change. The BBC is reporting a release date of 'summer' (opens in new tab) for the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, but another new stipulation is that shoes must be on sale to the public for four months before they may be used in competition. Which would seem to rule out their participation in the summer Olympics.
The answer may be in this sentence: 'Any new shoe technology developed after 30 April will now have to be available on the open market for four months before an athlete can use it in competition.' In other words, because these shoes have been developed before 30 April, they don't need to have been on sale for four months in order to be used in Tokyo. Phew.
For its part, Nike says: 'We are pleased the Nike Zoom Vaporfly series and Nike Zoom Alphafly Next% remain legal. We will continue our dialogue with World Athletics and the industry on new standards.'
We have 'reached out', as they say, to Nike for a 100% definitive answer.
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Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% and Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% FE
Just like in the case of the recently announced Brooks Hyperion Tempo and Elite (opens in new tab), the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% is part of a range of products, including the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% FlyEase, complementary training shoes that translate the principles of the Alphafly to rigorous daily use.
For the Tempo NEXT%, the NEXT% system is specifically tuned to training. The plate shifts from carbon to a composite — softer for added comfort over higher mileage — but still serves to provide stability and transition throughout a runner's full stride.
Both the Tempo and the Tempo FE uses the ZoomX cushioning system that sits above the plate at mid and forefoot. For maximum impact protection and durability, Nike React Foam is used at the heel – similar to the one used in the Nike React Infinity Run (opens in new tab). The same Nike Zoom Air pods featured in the new Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% are also placed in the Tempo’s forefoot to offer responsive cushioning and a sensation of propulsion.
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Nike Air Zoom Mercurial – new concept football boots
Another new announcement from Nike was a concept football boot, the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial. The boot is built around a full-length articulated Zoom Air bag that provides enhanced energy return, among other benefits. To achieve this, the internal boot chassis was transitioned to the plate, leaving only the sockliner between the foot and the Zoom Air bag for maximum effect.
For the first time in football, the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial features a Nike Flyprint upper, Nike’s first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear which debuted on the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, worn by marathoner Eliud Kipchoge.
The Air Zoom Mercurial’s Flyprint upper is lighter and more breathable than Nike's previously employed textiles, while still coated with All Conditions Control (ACC) to battle the elements. The Air Zoom Mercurial is also equipped with Flywire cables for additional structure and support.
Nike also debuted its new football kits, more images and info here (opens in new tab).
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Nike's Competition Apparel for Tokyo
To give us a bit of a taster ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2020, Nike debuts a new collections featuring sustainable materials for all athletes. Nike’s sustainable innovations signal the brand’s commitment to helping protect the future of the planet — and, consequently, the future of sport.
Highlights include uniforms for USA basketball, progressive advances in track and field kits and exuberant styles for those federations ushering skateboarding into the games. More info and images here (opens in new tab).