She was 15 years old at her first Olympic Games, in Athens. Now, at 19, Katie Hoff is looking to Beijing, and experts are calling her the “female Michael Phelps.” She could win multiple golds in China, thanks at least in part to her SPEEDO LZR RACER (pronounced “laser”) swimsuit, which compresses her body at key points to reduce “form drag,” making her smaller (and thus faster) in the water. The dark, NASA-tested panels also shed water. Speedo eschews fabric stitching, instead bonding the panels to the suit’s nylon core using ultrasonic “welding.”

More than 75% of all Olympic archery medals since 1972 have been won by athletes using Hoyt bows. The “limbs” of the HOYT HELIX 900 CX are made of the same flexible, crushproof syntactic foam used by the U.S. Navy inside the dive planes of Los Angeles–class nuclear submarines. The Swiss-made MORINI CM 162 EI air pistol is used in the modern pentathlon and 10-meter air-pistol competitions; its electronic trigger is controlled by microchips.

In action sports, the mantra is “I want to be different, just like everybody else,” says John Martin, global creative director for Nike Action Sports. So Americans will help inaugurate the new Olympic discipline of BMX racing in NIKE ULTRALIGHT bike “leathers” that keep riders cool with high-tech “zoned venting,” but are styled (i.e., baggy enough) for BMX culture.

Mizuno, one of Japan’s largest sporting-goods manufacturers, makes an Olympic softball bat called the FRENZY for such gold-medal-winning American softball stars as Jennie Finch and Natasha Watley. The bat uses what Mizuno calls Black Onyx Carbon; made in Japan, it’s the same ultralight, ultra- lively material used in the fuselage of Boeing’s new Dreamliner 787. The 800-gram OTE COMPOSITE FX javelin uses a combination of carbon fiber and aluminum to cut vibration time by 10%.

Nike is supplying USA BASKETBALL’S TEAM JERSEYS, which employ a new moisture-and heat-venting technique called Aerographics to promote airflow over the skin. Using a silk-screen-like process, Nike chemically “etches,” or dissolves, key “zones” of fabric. The result: culturally specific graphics, created by tattoo artists (note the liberty torch at the jersey’s base), which are also vents for air and sweat.

The better the thrower, the more mass there should be in the edge of his discus. The reason: If you can spin fast and release the disc “flat,” without wobble or flutter, the 4.4-pound wafer will rotate quickly, maintain its centrifugal force, and soar. The 2-kilogram PACER DISCUS will be one of many discus brands carted out to athletes on the Olympic track. About 89% of its mass is in the steel ring around its edge; the remaining 11%, in the center, is ABS plastic (formula: CH·CH·CHN)

Nike’s new PRECOOL vest was designed in its Sports Research Lab, which determined that performance falls off drastically when core body temperature hits 103 degrees. The vest, a medley of metal paint, plastic, and recycled sneakers, is designed to slow the rise of core body temperature before events in Beijing. It is filled with water, then frozen overnight. The athletes will wear it for about an hour just prior to competition.

Olympic Innovations in Athletic Gear

She was 15 years old at her first Olympic Games, in Athens. Now, at 19, Katie Hoff is looking to Beijing, and experts are calling her the "female Michael Phelps." She could win multiple golds in China, thanks at least in part to her SPEEDO LZR RACER (pronounced "laser") swimsuit, which compresses her body at key points to reduce "form drag," making her smaller (and thus faster) in the water. The dark, NASA-tested panels also shed water. Speedo eschews fabric stitching, instead bonding the panels to the suit’s nylon core using ultrasonic "welding."

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  • kevin thomas

    Not only are athletes getting bigger,stronger and faster now with advancements in technological engineering for sports apparel where're creating super athletes is this really in the best interests of the Olympics.