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Nike Air Blueprint collection

Nike unveils "new and better" athlete shoes ahead of Paris Olympics

Sportswear brand Nike has unveiled its new collection of elite footwear ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games this summer, claiming that AI is sparking a "super cycle" of innovation.

The company has developed its Nike Air cushioning technology in four new designs as part of a collection called the Blueprint Pack.

Included are the Nike GT Hustle 3 basketball shoe, the 2024 Nike Mercurial football boot and the Nike Victory 2 and Nike Maxfly 2 spikes for sprinting and middle-distance track-running.

Nike GT Hustle 3
Nike's GT Hustle 3 basketball shoe features a double layer of Nike Air pockets

Nike chief design officer Martin Lotti said increased energy return – or bounce – provided by the improved Nike Air will be "the difference-maker" at this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted in Paris in July and August.

"The Olympics represents the biggest platform for sports – the athletes have been training all their lives to get ready for this," he told Dezeen. "Being in the sports industry, designing sports equipment for footwear and apparel, it's also our pinnacle moment."

"It's an amazing test for us every single time, to not only do new products, but new and better products, and that allows us to have an incredible platform to innovate and design and literally put our best foot forward."

2024 Nike Mercurial
A four-millimetre Nike Air layer is said to improve stopping and acceleration in the 2024 Nike Mercurial football boot

Competition between brands to develop increasingly high-performance footwear for major sporting events has been intensifying in recent years – notably in marathon running with the so-called "super-shoe wars", where shoe development has roughly coincided with record-breaking run times.

The past decade has seen Nike focus primarily on lightweight foams and springboard-style carbon-fibre plates, but with the latest releases, it has turned to optimising its Air technology.

Nike Victory 2
Nike Air in the sole of the Nike Victory 2 is designed to enable greater stability for track runners

Artificial intelligence (AI) and improved digital modelling have enabled "a new super cycle of Air innovation that is driving better, faster, more efficient solutions" the brand said, as researchers can test more ways to apply the system than was previously possible.

Combined with Nike's vast bank of data taken from recording athletes in its research lab, that makes it possible to simulate how a footwear design will perform, react to load and weigh without the need to make a physical prototype, the brand explained.

Nike Maxfly 2
Nike-sponsored sprinters will wear the Nike Maxfly 2 at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

While Nike has not disclosed any updates to its record-breaking marathon shoe the Alphafly 3 to mark the Paris games, it said advances in Nike Air are allowing the system to be applied to other specialist sport shoes in new ways.

For instance, it said its running spikes now have a flatter ground-facing profile to provide athletes with greater stability, while a double-layer of Nike Air Zoom in the Nike GT Hustle 3 affords better energy return to basketball players.

An ultra-thin four-millimetre Air Zoom layer in the 2024 Nike Mercurial, tweaked from the previous 2022 version, makes it easier for footballers to stop and accelerate on soft ground, according to the brand.

Nike Air – a pressurised air pocket embedded within the sole of shoes – was first used in the midsole of the Nike Tailwind running shoe in 1978 and has since featured across the manufacturer's entire footwear range.

Nike Pegasus Premium
Nike said AI technology has allowed it to use its Nike Air Zoom cushioning system in a new format in the Nike Pegasus Premium

The Blueprint Pack, which will be released to the public in July, features 13 shoes in total identified by a white, orange and blue colour scheme that Nike said was inspired by drawings in the sketchbooks of company co-founder Bill Bowerman.

Nike launched the products at an exhibition held in Paris's Palais Brongniart, where it erected giant statues of its sponsored athletes in front of the neoclassical building.

Also debuted were two new iterations of its Pegasus series of extra-cushioned running shoes.

Statues outside Nike on Air event in Paris
Oversized orange statues of Nike athletes were stationed outside the venue for the launch event

One was the Nike Pegasus Premium, which Nike said uses its first "sculpted, visible Air Zoom unit", developed with the above-mentioned AI technology, to deliver more energy return than previous versions.

It also launched the Nike Pegasus 41, featuring an improved ReactX foam midsole compared with its predecessor that the brand said increases energy return while reducing the shoe's carbon footprint.

The two consumer-oriented shoes will be released in spring 2025 and June 2024 respectively. Among Nike's recent shoe releases is the Air Max Dn.

The photography is courtesy of Nike.

More images

Shoes in the Nike Air Blueprint Pack collection
Nike Air Max Dn
Nike Alphafly 3
Nike Dragonfly
Nike GT Cut 3
Nike GT Hustle
Nike Infinity RN Womens
Nike Invincible Rn Womens
Nike Maxfly 2
2024 Nike Mercurial
2024 Nike Mercurial
Nike Pegasus 41 Easyon
Nike Pegasus 41 Easyon
Nike Pegasus 41
Nike Pegasus 41
Nike Pegasus Premium exhibition
Statues outside Nike on Air event