Two weeks out from the Olympic Games and yet another solid partnership in the swim suit market has fallen by the wayside: world 100m free champion Filippo Magnini and Arena have annouced their divorce in the midst of the battle of the bodysuits.
Arena today complains of the 'significant psychological pressure on athletes and on all the main players in swimming competitions, sometimes sparking tension with technical sponsors' as it waves goodbye to an Italian who feels he must wear a certain suit in order to win a gold medal. The sport has never been so divided in terms of success being perceived by competitors as being dependent on their suits.
There are those who feel that the suit issue is tired and insignificant. They are wrong. Listen to what the swimmer - not the media but the swimmer - says in the below.
Here is the text of the press release from Arena:
The complex and unexpected series of events that has animated the swimming world over the last few months has directly and indirectly exerted significant psychological pressure on athletes and on all the main players in swimming competitions, sometimes sparking tension with technical sponsors. We are now all aware that, after fighting a legitimate battle in defence of the values and ethics of sport, Arena chose to focus all its resources and energies on the toughest challenge, which is however undoubtedly the most congenial to the spirit of the company: to produce, in time for Beijing Olympic Games, a new version of POWERSKIN R-EVOLUTION that integrates some of the technological solutions made possible by the new, extended interpretation of the FINA regulations.
In the record time of 3 months, POWERSKIN R-EVOLUTION + is today a reality. Its outstanding performance characteristics have been confirmed in time trials and feedback from dozens and dozens of international athletes and coaches, received during the course of an intensive programme of tests that involved, poolside, Arena?s top Marketing and R&D managers for several weeks.
However Arena is aware that, whilst capable of winning this important challenge, the time required to perfect the new top competition swimsuit has not allowed some athletes to carry out planned testing sessions or to become acquainted, at important official competitions, with the performance characteristics of the new swimsuit before the Olympics.
More specifically, as regards the course of the relationship between Filippo Magnini and Arena, the not entirely satisfactory outcome of one of the testing sessions with the prototype of the new top competition swimsuit carried out during the Sette Colli Trophy meeting, certainly did not help the athlete to fully allay his doubts.
At that Trophy meeting, Filippo in fact decided, without previously informing Arena, to swim the 100m freestyle final wearing the new Speedo swimsuit, going on to win against some of his most formidable opponents and eloquently demonstrating himself to be a claimant for Olympic victory.
The resounding media impact caused by this event inevitably produced serious damage for Arena?s image. The company, in absolute good faith, could not get out of having a direct and frank confrontation with the athlete, where Filippo?s clear and unquestionable intention emerged to suspend tests with the new Arena swimsuit and to concentrate instead on a specific training programme, on the assumed premise of the Speedo suit?s reliability, confirmed by a significant number of records.
At this point Filippo and Arena, with great regret, have agreed that the most logical and reasonable step to take is to terminate the contract by mutual consent.
'For a brand like Arena, that has always focussed its R&D resources and its marketing investment on the top personalities in the international swimming world,' stated Cristiano Portas, CEO of the Arena Group, 'no sponsorship contract has any sense to exist when the other party (whether it be a Federation or an athlete) does not feel committed to place total and unconditional trust in the company and in its technical equipment, so that they can be genuine and proud ambassadors of the Arena brand and of its products throughout the world. Using athletes or Federations as no more than testimonials in advertising campaigns or in other communication activities, that may have some sense for generic labels, has absolutely no value for Arena.'
'I sincerely want to thank Arena for having believed in me right from the start of my career and for having supported me for all these years, contributing to many national and international successes ? said Filippo Magnini ? I will always respect and hold the company in the highest esteem as I will do with regard to all the people I?ve been able to work with so intensively. I'm also fully aware, in spite of the present situation, that it was with the new Arena swimsuit that I set my personal best for 50m freestyle (22.51), improving by nearly 0.3 of a second.'
'After winning two world championships and so many other important races, for me the Beijing Olympics represent an extremely important challenge. I will as always give my best, knowing that I have available the same technical material that will be used by those who I consider to be my main adversaries.'