When it rains, it... well, let's just say today Nike made it pour with a ton of news about its plans for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. And there's more. In addition to its new sustainable apparel and sneakers, the company will be making another debut at this year's summer games: its first-ever soccer (er, football) shoes with 3D-printed materials, the Air Zoom Mercurial. These new boots, as the football community calls its footwear, feature Nike's Flyprint, the 3D-printed textile upper that the sportswear giant introduced in 2018. It's designed to be lighter and more breathable than other textiles it has used in the past, Nike says, and the the same time the way the printed materials are fused together allow the shoes to better secure an athlete's foot.
Flyprint evolves — This 3D-printed technology on the Air Zoom Mercurial is the same one Nike used on its Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, a prototype worn by marathoner Eliud Kipchoge during his quest to break the sub-2-hour mark — a feat that at a point seemed impossible for any human to achieve. Nike's hope now is to take its learnings from Flyprint and apply them to the world of soccer, where rapid movements from athletes are equally as important as in running.
The Nike Air Zoom Mercurial also come with a 4.5mm, full-length Air Zoom bag, which is intended to offer players a solid amount of cushioning and energy return. That's the same way the Air Zoom tech works for basketball sneakers, although Nike says the reimagined Mercurial cleats are more about "responsiveness" than anything else.
Old meets new — As someone who's been playing soccer since I can remember, it's refreshing to see Nike bring new tech to iconic football boots like the Mercurial. It's also great that the company is combining 3D-printed materials like Flyprint with more of its innovations, which in this case are the Air Zoom bags that Nike says will provide "maximum" cushioning effect for players. Let's hope that's the case.
You can expect to see Nike athletes, both men and women, with the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial on their feet at the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics. Nike hasn't said when they'll be available to average Joes like myself, but they'll likely start hitting stores in the next few months.