While it is no secret that world-records have been falling to new bests each year for the past century, the largest factor contributing to this trend is improved physical fitness and better training techniques.
However, in the past decade it has been technology that has been regarded as the best bet in bolstering an athlete’s advantage on the track. Increasingly higher numbers of athletes are now looking to science and technology to give them the competitive edge they need to beat the world’s best.
Sports engineering, as it has been termed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, is one of the most secretive practices in use today.
Everything from the simplest equipment, like a soccer ball, to an aerodynamic compression suit has been improved and developed to improve an athlete’s performance. These advances in the science of sports have set a new standard for athletes and sporting equipment.
Nike and Adidas have presented new, ultra-lightweight shoes for runners that will prove to give a heavy advantage against those running with bulkier footwear.
New sporting equipment is not the only thing that has raised the issue of sports engineering during this summer Olympics. South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius will officially be the first amputee to participate in the summer Olympics. Nicknamed the “Blade Runner”, Pistorius has two artificial limbs made of flexible carbon fiber at his disposal. His inclusion in to the Olympic races has sparked debate among officials and participants as to the fairness of having those with artificial and perhaps advantageous technological assistance on the track.
In just a few short days we will see the fruits of sports technology’s labor when the opening ceremonies commence, along with an Olympic first with the inclusion of the world’s first amputee participant in an Olympic event.