At the very first Olympic Games, in 1896, an American won a gold medal in the pole vault event after jumping 3.30 meters using a wooden pole.

Four years ago in Beijing, an Australian won gold in the same event with a 5.96-meter jump. The pole he used was lighter and stronger and made from carbon fibers.

When the 2012 Olympic games begin later this month in London, athletes will not only be better-trained than ever before, but also better-equipped.

“What we have seen really is nothing short of a revolution, particularly in the use of advanced materials, integrated with engineering design,” says Michael Caine, a professor of sports technology at Loughborough University in England.

Breaking records

He says athletes with lighter and stronger bats, rackets and golf clubs can hit balls further, harder or with more spin. Often these engineering innovations can be tracked by the records in the sport.

Despite the boost these innovations can give an athlete’s performance, Caine says what he hopes to see in London is that the best, most dedicated athletes win.  Writing in Nature Materials, he adds, “The need to balance innovation and tradition in sport is set to remain an enduring and compelling challenge.”

by: Rosanne Skirble


Carbon Fibers Pole
Carbon Fibers Pole

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