Why Are Gymnasts Called “Leos” At The Olympics? This Nickname Actually Makes Sense
By now many of you have undoubtedly immersed yourselves into all of the 2016 Rio Olympics coverage you can handle. From synchronized diving to fencing and everything in-between, there's no shortage of talent you'll find up on that screen. But if I'm being completely honest, women's gymnastics is my favorite Olympic event to watch by far out of all the other categories, with USA's new Fierce Five looking just as impressive as their London predecessors four years back. But chances are, that if you've been watching these events take place, you've heard the term "Leos" get tossed around every so often in reference to the Olympians. So why are gymnasts called "Leos" exactly? It turns out that this curious nickname was given for a very specific reason.
Now, if you're anything like me, your automatic conclusion may have been to assume all of the gymnasts were born between July 21 and Aug. 20, thereby giving them the Zodiac sign of a Leo. Trust me when I say, that is not what is going on here. (But can we at least give me some credit for creativity? No?) According to The New York Times, gymnasts leotards are commonly called "Leos," which is what the nickname seems to be referring to. And when you think about it, that really makes a lot more sense than my silly horoscope explanation.
While the gymnasts have all, of course, been praised for their impressive talents in each respective event, their wardrobe has also been given a decent amount of attention. In fact, that same New York Times article revealed that many of the Team USA leotards have close to 5,000 Swarovski crystals on them — not in total, but on each garment. That's a lot of jewels and further proves just how prominent a gymnasts' look has become in this day and age. So it makes sense that the nickname has stuck around for so long.
Not to mention, when you're dealing with an event that involves such a vast array of diverse talent, you want to find a way to help distinguish your group from the sea of other athletes out there. These sparkly "leos" are the best way to go about doing just that. And given that many of the young athletes competing are too busy training to go to prom, these Olympic leotards are usually referred to as prom dresses, and prove to be just as expensive (if not more so) than most. The New York Times article states that each Olympian's competition leotards cost an average of $1,200, which is more than all of my prom dresses combined.
So the next time you hear gymnasts being referred to as "leos," you'll have a much better understanding of where the name came from and have an even deeper appreciation for every aspect of this sport.