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Team GB track and field star launches sportswear brand for unsigned athletes

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eam GB track and field star Lorraine Ugen says she has created her own sportswear brand in a bid to break the stigma around being an unsigned athlete and inspire others to “grow and succeed in their sport” without sponsorship.

Unsigned is a self-funded brand Ugen plans to launch within the next month as the 30-year-old long jumper and occasional sprinter was not picked up by a sponsor, despite competing at both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Ugen, who grew up in Greenwich south London hopes the brand can celebrate unsigned athletes as well as fund her own training and competition costs.

Lorraine Ugen wants to break the stigma around being an unsigned athletes with her self-funded sportswear brand (Olu Olamigoke)

“I wanted to start Unsigned not just for me,” Ugen told the PA news agency.

“I want it to be able to grow enough that I can help, that’s why I call it Unsigned – I want it to be a statement.

“I want people to be less embarrassed and less shy about it – there’s a lot of athletes that are not signed, we’re here (and) we’re available.”

Ugen explained that sponsorships are a key source of income for athletes.

“Most of us in track and field, how we make our money and how we support ourselves comes from getting sponsorships,” she said.

“I think during the pandemic, a lot of people got dropped from their kit sponsors, there’s been a large shift.

Lorraine Ugen was inspired to launch Unsigned when she was dropped by her kit sponsor in 2020 (John Neopolitian)

“There’s a lot of athletes that start GoFundMe accounts in order to support themselves.

“When people see you compete on TV, they automatically assume that you’re making millions … I met some people in the field that have to have part-time jobs because they’re not making enough money to be able to do just track and field.”

Burdened with an injury, Ugen herself was dropped by sportswear brand Spyder in 2020, which she said encouraged her to build her own brand.

“I had the idea (of Unsigned) beforehand, but when I got dropped, I was like, ‘you’re going to have to take the initiative now and do what you’ve got to do,” she said.

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