What Shoes Are Your Favorite Athletes Wearing at the Tokyo Games?

Shop 10 different cleats, spikes and sneaks. Spoiler: it's a lot of Nike.

August 3, 2021 12:19 pm
nike flyease
Medal-earning Americans head to the podium wearing Nike's new FlyEase technology — a fancy term for "slip-ons."
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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Somehow — despite rising case numbers, soaring temperatures and a bunch of cardboard beds — we’ve made it past the halfway point of the Tokyo Olympics.

This edition of the Games has already welcomed new sports into the fold, catalyzed international discussions on mental health and seen a range of rollercoaster performances. Last week, a 13-year-old skateboarder named Momiji Nishiya became the youngest gold medal winner since 1936. This week, Novak Djokovic missed out on the Golden Slam and smashed his racket.

Point being, for an event that almost didn’t happen (and perhaps shouldn’t be happening), it’s been a lot of fun to watch. And for those of us who tend to write about gear, it’s been especially fun to take stock of the shoes that the world’s finest athletes are skating, sprinting and serving in.

Performance footwear matters now more than ever. Speedy spikes have upended record books in the world of running, while modern updates in design — for team sports like basketball and soccer, and individual sports like skateboarding and golf — have made the game simultaneously safer and more stylish for those competing.

Fortunately, this is some action that you can actually get in on. Below, we’ve assembled the preferred shoe of 10 different male Olympians, across 10 different disciplines. From Kevin Durant’s Nike basketball kicks, to the New Balance racers that helped little-known Alex Yee earn two medals in the triathlon this week, we’ve got you covered.

nyjah huston
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Image

Nyjah Huston: Nike SB Nyjah Free 2

The 26-year-old skateboarder will leave Tokyo without a medal — he finished seventh in the “street” event last week, as the Games hosts skateboarding for the first time this year — but with 10 endorsement deals and over four million followers, he remains the face of the sport. His signature Nike shoe is representative of how the sport’s footwear has changed over the years: less canvas and “puff,” more mesh and athletic lines.

kipchoge shoes
Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

Eliud Kipchoge: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit

Kipchoge is the greatest marathoner the planet has ever seen, but his legacy will always be intertwined with running’s responsive-shoe revolution. Ever since he came in under two hours in Berlin, the industry has seen nonstop releases of hyper-fast shoes. Does he need the extra tech to win? Probably not. But this Friday in Sapporo, he’ll be lacing up in Nike’s Alphafly NEXT% Flyknits — carbon plates, cushy footbed and all.

kevin durant kd14
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Kevin Durant: Nike KD14

Multilayer mesh, mid-foot straps, a whole lotta swagger … the latest generation of Durant’s signature shoe befits the NBA’s most-skilled active scorer. If you’re looking to ramp up your Saturday hoops performances, bring home a pair. Just make sure it’s your actual size; Durant has this weird thing where he likes to play in shoes that are one size too large. It probably cost him Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and is only going to give you blisters. The star forward can redeem himself this week at Team USA goes for gold.

matt centrowitz
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Matt Centrowitz: Nike ZoomX Dragonfly

The American record in the mile still alludes him, but Centrowitz is arguably the greatest middle-distance runner the nation’s ever produced. Like just about everyone else who toes the line for this week’s 1500-meter race, he’ll be wearing Nike’s much-ballyhooed ZoomX Dragonfly track spikes. They contain a carbon plate (like the NEXT% running shoes), and they’ve been sold out everywhere for months. Fortunately for you, we’ve found pairs available at Eastbay.

alexander zverev adidas
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Alexander Zverev: Adidas Men’s Adizero Ubersonic 4

The man who ended Novak Djokovic’s dream of a Golden Slam. Zverev, a 24-year-old from Germany, beat the number one player in the world and then Karen Khachanov of Russia to take home the gold, capping off what was easily the best week of his professional career. He did so while wearing Adizero Ubersonic 4s, the latest in the brand’s most popular line of tennis shoes. The Tokyo edition is a bit light on sizing at the moment, but there are three other colorways available.

marcell jacobs
Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Lamont Marcell Jacobs: Nike Air Zoom Maxfly

The El Paso-born Italian just ran the fastest 100-meter in European history, taking the first sprinting gold following Usain Bolt’s 12-year dominance of the track. Literally no one saw this coming — Jacobs hadn’t broken 10 seconds until earlier this year. He crossed the line in Nike Air Zoom Maxflys. Shorter events are now starting to see the same carbon tech that’s taking over middle and long distance events; until other brands catch up, Nike’s pair is the spike of choice.

Xander adidas
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Xander Schauffele: Adidas ZG21 Tokyo Golf Shoes

Another athlete who just notched the best win of his professional career. The 27-year-old is the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in golf since 1900. He did it after scoring a 67 in his final round, which was enough to beat Slovakian Rory Sabbatini by one shot on the last hole. Schauffele is sponsored by Adidas and wears the brand’s ZG21 golf shoes, which feature a waterproof upper and Boost midsoles. If you want the all-American colorway, find them here. (Unsurprisingly, sizing is very limited on that style.)

richarlison boots
Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images

Richarlison: Nike Mercurial Vapor 14 Elite FG

After a summer that’s seen the Euros, Copa América, and the Concacaf Gold Cup, you might’ve forgotten that there’s still some international football to be had. On the men’s side, the competition in Tokyo is essentially a youth tournament — teams are restricted to under-24 players (born on or after 1 January 1997) with a maximum of three overage players allowed. There’s still some serious talent, though, especially with Brazil’s side. Budding Everton star Richarlison scored a hat-trick against Germany last week. His boots? Nike’s Mercurial Vapor 14 Elite FGs. A mouthful to say, but a handful on the pitch.

alex yee triathlon
Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Alex Yee: New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2

More carbon! The 23-year old Yee won silver in the men’s triathlon last Monday, rested for all of four days, then won gold with his three British teammates in the triathlon mixed relay on Saturday. According to top-line triathlon analysts (who very much exist, believe it or not), he wasn’t expected to do quite this well. But his X-factor is his running speed; he’s run under 13:30 for 5K before. As long as he’s within striking distance coming off the swim and cycle, he has a chance. Yee makes up that ground in New Balance’s latest carbon-plated shoe, the FuelCell RC Elite v2.

ryan murphy podium shoes
Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ryan Murphy: Nike Glide FlyEase Premium Shoe

Swimmers do indeed wear shoes — when they’re headed to the podium. Nike’s been outfitting medal-earning American athletes in their new FlyEase sneaker, a springy, laceless slip-on because “the world’s greatest athletes don’t have much time to get from their event to the medal stand.” It’s a clever way to drum up some organic marketing for a shoe they’ve clearly put a lot of thought and resources into. (FlyEase is part of Nike’s Move to Zero campaign, and was partially made with recycled materials.) Murphy has been photographed wearing these shoes a few times now — he’s won three medals at these Games.

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