The Olympic Games are a spectacle to behold when they eventually roll round every four (or five) years, and this Olympics held in Tokyo is no different, with world and personal records tumbling left, right and centre.
The designer behind the Olympic track has claimed that the track itself is one of the reasons for such consistent record-breaking, alluding to athletes being able to run ‘one or two percent’ faster than normal.
It is thought that the rubber granules imbedded within the track are creating ‘pockets of air’ and a ‘trampoline effect’, allowing athletes to go faster.
The latest lightning-fast run at the Olympic stadium saw Norway’s Karsten Warholm smash his own 400m hurdles world record by more than 0.7sec on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Olympic records were also set by Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn in the 100m hurdles and Elaine Thompson-Herah on her way to 100m gold.
Questions have, however, been asked of the technologies implemented within the track, with uncertainty surrounding the ethics of its design.
A member of the team behind the track’s creation Andrea Vallauri has said, as per the Daily Mail: “What you are seeing is evolution. Clearly every time there is an Olympic Games we try to improve the formulation of the material, and Tokyo has been no different.
“We have tried to improve by adding an extra compound. The track is very thin – 14mm. But we have added these rubber granules. How best to describe it: in the lower layer of the track is this hexagonal design that creates these small pockets of air.
“They not only provide shock absorption but give some energy return; at the same time a trampoline effect. We have improved this combination and this is why we are seeing the track has improved performance.
“In Rio (in 2016) the track was called WS. This new one is called WSTY, for Tokyo. It’s the latest evolution of the track.
“It is completely within the rules but it is also what we were asked to provide; two components.
“To protect the health of the athletes, to avoid trauma, but it should also give them a push, let me say it like that.
“In lab testing we can see the improvement. It is difficult to say exactly but maybe a one or two per cent advantage.
“It is all prefabricated so every lane is the same, and the run-ups for the long and triple jumps also. The production is the same as a Formula One tyre.”