Erica Bougard loves her Nikes. Especially the spikes with the rainbow flap. Now the entire world knows how much she loves competing in them.
Bougard is in Doha, Qatar, for the IAAD World Athletics Championships competing in the heptathlon — an event that combines performances in seven track and field events.
Competing in the high jump portion of the heptathlon, Bougard slipped Wednesday night drawing attention to her shoes that happen to sport a huge rainbow-pride flap over the laces.
After the event Bougard said she isn’t trying to make a statement with the shoes. Qatar, as has been widely reported, criminalizes homosexuality. Like most competitors, Bougard is just wearing her favorite shoes.
She offered a couple thoughts on the potential issues that could or could not arise from her choice of shoes. From Time:
“But I’m not afraid of the consequences,” Bougard said. “I feel like I’m well protected.”
If anything does happen, “I’ll be on the first flight out.”
It’s unclear how the rainbow flag got on her shoe. While this shoe is not a part of it, Nike’s BeTrue line has become wildly popular with its use of rainbows and other nods to the LGBTQ community. Yet this comment from Bougard makes it seem like she installed the rainbow herself:
“I put the flag on my shoe and people noticed it, I guess,” she said.
Despite the anti-LGBTQ laws of Qatar, Bougard is one of several publicly out athletes at the IAAF World Championships. American runner Nikki Hiltz is competing and previously said she would not be kissing her girlfriend in public in hopes of focusing on her competitions. British race walker Tom Bosworth is also there and has been critical of the choice of Qatar to host the event.