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Olympic science

Olympic scienceBeing the best sportsperson is not all about physical perfection – many sports require the best technology in their training and equipment.
Check out the list below for the top technology behind the Olympic performances in 2008 and 2012.

  • The weather can often prove to be an athlete’s most terrifying opponent. The humidity in Beijing is so high that traditional means of cooling – sweat! – don’t work as effectively. Many sportsmen, particularly in events such as fencing, were wearing specially designed clothing containing cooled water.
  • In cycling, many of the innovations have already had their effect before the race starts: new training equipment means that cyclists can make the most of their efforts in the early stages to help them grab a medal. A sophisticated cycling simulator means that the athlete will always be training with exactly the same resistance and air pressure, meaning that the coach can judge which exercises are the most effective.
  • Rowing teams also use tech to help with their training. The US rowing team wear virtual-reality-style goggles during their practice. The goggles are connected to a live feed of their rowing, so that they can watch their performance in real time and correct any mistakes in posture or stroke. This real-time practice gets them into better habits so that their form will be near-perfect for the race.
  • In 2008, swimming costumes designed by NASA and Speedo made sure that athletes are as hydrodynamic as possible. Panels were ultrasonically bonded instead of stitched, and the finished product was more buoyant than any previous costume. In 2012, British swimmers had a costume that weighed less than half as much as the 2008 suit, and absorbed 32% less water than other advanced costumes. The difference a good swimsuit can make means that there are strict rules about how a
  • In Beijing, the British women’s hockey team presented a scary picture to their opponents, as they used tinted contact lenses as a substitute for sunglasses. As well as giving the team a spooky stare, they filtered out reflections from the Beijing sun and made it easier for the team to focus.

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