Engineering in the Olympics

Olympic triple jump Gold medallist and world record holder, Jonathan Edwards, today launches a unique partnership deal between the British Olympic Association and the Engineering Technology Board. Dean Palmer reports

The new partnership will highlight the critical role that science, engineering and technology play in the BOA's assistance to athletes' participation, and success, in the world's greatest sports event. This ranges from the design of the latest composite carbon-fibre racing bikes, the assessment of swimmers' stroke velocity and monitoring of extreme physical performance. Today's announcement marks the start of the 'Engineering in the Olympics' campaign. This year-long campaign is designed to inspire more young people to pursue careers and education in science, engineering and technology by showcasing cutting edge work, including stadia design, that contributes to the Olympic experience. The etb plans to do this through a series of regional road shows, public debates, competitions and a schools lecture tour during 2004. Two pieces of British cutting edge technology being displayed today, that are helping the BOA prepare GB's athletes for Olympic success, are the ModelMaker X70 scanner from The University of Sheffield and a new track bike reputed to be the best in the world that has already won two World Championship Gold medals. The team from Sheffield is currently working with the GB Olympic Cycling team to scan and analyse the drag properties of their high-tech sporting equipment which could mean the difference between GB athletes winning Gold or Silver in Athens. As the organisation responsible for promoting science, engineering and technology in the UK, the etb is the first body of its kind to be recognised as an official partner of the BOA. Their partnership will contribute to the British Olympic squad's bid for success in Athens, Bryan Steel being one of many hopefuls. Alan Clark, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Technology Board, said: "It is critical to Britain's future as a manufacturing and wealth creating nation that more young people pursue careers in science, engineering and technology. For example British science and engineering professionals are providing what could be the difference between Gold and Silver medals for the GB Cycling team with the 'Athen's Bike'. The etb's 'Engineering in the Olympics' campaign aims to encourage and inspire a new generation of engineers by championing the innovative and dynamic opportunities that this sector can offer". Simon Clegg, CEO of the British Olympic Association, said that science and technology is playing an increasingly important part in achieving Olympic performance: "Engineering technology can assist a number of our Olympians as they prepare for the world's greatest sporting event. This partnership between the etb and the BOA will give British athletes a performance boost in the most important year of their lives." Jonathan Edwards, a physics graduate from Durham University and a member of the BOA's National Olympic Committee, said: "From track design, to triple jump spikes, to the latest medical diagnostic testing, science is helping athletes push the boundaries of what's possible. Taking advantage of the latest technology is all part of the search for the extra millimetre, or split second that can make the difference between Gold and Silver, or separate victory from defeat." DP