Engineering and technology have played a vital role in the past decade in the sports industry. Be it designing sports equipment, improving sports facilities, driving data to analyse athletes’ performance, sports engineering has made the sporting world better, safer and more advanced.
One such event where sports engineering has completely changed the dynamics is the Paralympics.
Paralympics is an international sports event where athletes having physical disabilities participate against each other in multiple sports. Sports engineers have come up with a high level of advanced technology for the athletes so that they can participate to the best of their abilities despite their disabilities.
Equipment like a wheelchair, prosthetic limbs etc are designed based on the requirement of the athlete and the particular sport in which he/she is participating to obtain the best possible performance.
Also, the same type of equipment could be designed in a different manner to fulfil the requirements of a sport.
For example, in track and field events the blade prosthesis used by athletes are springier so that the athlete gets the extra push of energy to run as fast as they can whereas, in events like cycling the prosthesis are designed very thin so that it can cut through the air and no turbulence is generated and the athlete can acquire the maximum speed.
The design of wheelchairs used in the sport in Paralympics also varies. In the sport of ‘Fencing’, the wheelchairs are equipped with leg straps and made steadier as they are fixed at a position and the athlete is required to move their upper body more to strike the blade and gain points.
In the sport of ‘Wheelchair Basketball’, the wheels are inclined to a certain angle inwards so that the players get more mobility and can turn the wheelchair more easily. Generally, the materials are similar which are used to make wheelchairs in every sport like carbon fibre because that makes it stronger and more lightweight. And most importantly, the equipment is made by taking the safety aspect into consideration so that the athletes can perform without risk factors.
This showcases how sports engineers have given the opportunity to people who have lost hope in life due to their physical disability and now have given them a sense of pride to represent their nation in sports across the globe. With the constant advancement in technology in sports, the day is not far when the Paralympians will be able to perform better than the athletes with no disabilities.