Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Meet Olympian Blake Leeper, the Face of Nike’s New Underwear Campaign


With the U.S. Olympic team set and boarding their flights to Tokyo, we at The Manual are not a little obsessed with this year’s Summer Games. (And that includes new sports, including surfing, skateboarding, and climbing, along with heritage disciplines like track and field and swimming.) So when we saw eight-time Paralympic competitor Blake Leeper announced as the new face of Nike’s underwear campaign, we raced to our keyboards and frantically started banging out words to describe its Olympic-sized significance.

Some of those words: historic, fast, bold. All apply to Leeper, who becomes the first paralympian to front the company’s rarified pair of undies. After making his international debut in 2009, Leeper has steadily accrued a neck’s worth of hardware, including silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London in the 400- and 200-meters, respectively, along with more silvers and a gold at the IPC World Championships. Pre-pandemic, he was ranked the sixth-fastest man in the world. And with its choice of current and future sports greats, Nike’s choice of the Tennessee native breaks new ground for the company, thrusting him into the greatest exposure of his life (off the track and podium, at least).

Related Guides

Most recently, Leeper concluded a year-long appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, failing in his quest to compete in the Olympics themselves like pioneer and fellow double-leg amputee Oscar Pistorius. Officials decided that his running blades, which elevate him to six feet, two inches, would have to be substantially shortened to negate unfair competitive advantage.

“I feel like my story and message of having hope and strength can help a lot of people,” Leeper said in the announcement release. “I just want to get on that stage and say I’m born without legs and I’m one of the fastest men in the world, so if you can see my life as an example, then anything is possible. So whatever you’re going through today — if it feels tough, if it feels hard — congratulations, because you’re going in the right path.”

As one might surmise from the company’s pedigree and Leeper’s own bona fides, the underwear collection skews toward the performance-oriented, though they’re not exclusive to it. Cut from luxe cotton, flex micro, elite micro, and everyday cotton stretch fabrics, they’ll get you through sweaty summertime workouts just as well as lazy Saturdays, and they slip under basketball shorts or a linen suit at will.

For many Olympians and Paralympians, Tokyo represents the pinnacle of their sporting achievement, and post-Games, they’ll move on to other ventures and traditional careers. Leeper, at 31, may be taking his final swing at international sporting achievement. But with his new Nike campaign, people from all around the world will see the athlete in a different light. With its one-of-a-kind significance, that light may be the brightest of them all.

Read more: Can You Watch All of the Olympics on Peacock?

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Gugala
Features Writer
Jon Gugala is a freelance writer and photographer based in Nashville, Tenn. A former gear editor for Outside Magazine, his…
Nike Announces ‘Refurbished,’ Its Gently Used Shoe-Selling Program
nike refurbished program consumer 1 102074

Being a casual sneakerhead is no easy life. Ahead of planned drops you have to camp out in front of your computer like you're trying to buy Beyoncé tickets. Fumble your keystrokes and stock evaporates, only to resurface at a premium price on secondary marketplaces like eBay and a cottage industry of dedicated apps. Surprise drops? Try excelling in a traditional workplace when you have to excuse yourself from the boardroom to frantically snatch up a limited release. And we won't even get into fakes, forgeries, and outright scams. Well, finally there may be a better way: Nike Refurbished
, which was announced on Monday, April 13.
Related Guides

Best Clothing Brands for Men
Best Men's Workout Clothing Brands
Best Consignment Stores

Read more
VRST Is the Best Alternative to Lululemon’s Athleisure We’ve Seen So Far
vrst athleisure line 2021 q1

This is not a story about Lululemon. It is a story about VRST
, a Dick's Sporting Goods exclusive line of athleisure clothing, including commuter pants, joggers, tees, hoodies, and other easy-wearing lifestyle pieces that you'll want to wear every day, especially when the occasion calls for something that both breathes well and looks put together. But it's about Lululemon in the same way that the subtweet you sent was really about Drake even if you never mentioned Drake specifically. (We all knew who you were talking about.) Let me explain.

VRST is about Lululemon even if it never mentions Lululemon because Lululemon crushes with its ABC Pant, which stands for Anti Ball Crushing and, as its name suggests, is very comfortable. I have no fewer than five pairs of them, and I've owned more because they look like a pair of khakis but feel like a pair of running shorts. And in my home in the South, where the interminable summers are trying to crush my family jewels for six months out of the year, minimum, they are a godsend. Playing golf? Yes. Attending a Sunday service? No doubt. From date night to work event, they are so versatile and comfortable and flattering that I bought them in every color. To date, my only complaint is that, after repeated wears, they can retain the stink of old sweat the same way your workout tees can hold past funk. Lululemon's essentials, from tees to pants to polos, are guy favorites the world 'round, which is quite an accomplishment for a company previously synonymous with women's workout tights.

Read more
Meet Cariuma, a Sustainable and Ethical Shoe Brand That Truly Walks the Walk
cariuma shoe brand feature 5

They say the reason for an Ivy League education is the connections you make, for access into the rooms where deals are made. You know the type: wood-paneled, ringed with cigar smoke, all collegial handshakes and crossed legs in leather wingback chairs. But Cariuma
, which was founded in 2018 by Brazilians David Python and Fernando Porto, credits its origin story to a ski lodge where the founders were playing hooky from Harvard Business School. “I almost visited every resort in my two-year MBA," Python, 38, tells The Manual. "I didn’t study business at all. I was there just to snowboard.” It's only the first aberration of many that has led to the fledgling company doing everything differently in the best possible way.

Related Guides

Read more