WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
The Rio 2016 running track is the fastest ever and records will fall.
The running track of the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro passed inspection rounds on May 9th earlier this year and was unveiled to the world shortly afterwards. While, to many people it’s most striking feature might appear to be its deep royal blue colour – unlike the Olympic diving pool which just turned green – it has a bigger surprise in store, one that looks like it could send world records tumbling. And it’s here, on this track, that Jamaica’s Usain Bolt will attempt to defend the 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles he won at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games in what would be an unprecedented ‘triple-triple’.
The environment and weather that swirls around a track can have a huge impact on its performance so the new synthetic track, developed by Italian company Mondo has been specifically designed with Rio’s hot and humid conditions in mind .
Andrea Vallauri, head of the sports division at Mondo told us that what makes this track special is their manufacturing process. The company used new nanotechnology fabrication methods to make minute molecular modifications to the materials of the track and to give it a new honeycomb structure which improves the tracks trampoline effect, the sum of which is that this is their fastest track ever. And it seems like the athletes agree and many pundits are now questioning whether the track, whose earlier iterations were trialled at London 2012 and in the Beijing 2015 athletics world championships is why three men went under 44 seconds in the men’s 400m final, and eight men went under 10 seconds in the heats of the men’s 100m.
“This surface is very different. Look at how it affected the male long jumpers and the hurdlers. The power guys just got too close to the hurdles and the long jumpers didn’t hit the board as much as usual. That is the speed of the track,” said Stuart McMillan, coach to Anaso Jobodwana, South Africa’s bronze medallist from the men’s 200m in Beijing.
“We got so many comments back from athletes saying Beijing 2015 was one of the best tracks they had ever performed on,” said Vallauri, “and for Rio we have improved a little bit again from Beijing… Rio is the ending of a natural evolution beginning in London.”
So if more world records fall at Rio 2016 it might be because the athletes just found (yet) another technology inspired 1 percent advantage.