Back in 1948, when the International Wheelchair Games - the precursor to the Paralympics - occured in the UK, things were totally different for wheelchair athletes. Wheelchairs were never made for sports, its only objective is to help assist in mobility of people.
Online PR News – 06-June-2011 – – Back in 1948, when the International Wheelchair Games - the precursor to the Paralympics - occured in the UK, things were totally different for wheelchair athletes. Wheelchairs were never made for sports, its only objective is to help assist in mobility of people.
Fortunately, things have changed and adjustments were offered so that wheelchairs can assist athletes take part in the 2012 Paralympic games.
The 2012 Paralympic Games
The 2012 Paralympic Games will be held from August 29 to September 9, 2012. A total of 1.6 million tickets will be offered for the event, and people from around the world will come to view the best athletes in the world partake in a wide range of sports, including:
• Archery • Athletics • Biking • Basketball • Fencing • Volleyball • Rugby • Tennis
The fact that there are plenty of sports where disabled people are now able to compete is due in large part to the technological advancements which have been made over the years.
How The Wheelchair Sports Begun
Following the International Wheelchair Games, people began to start taking wheelchair sports more critically, and therefore early advances were created in wheelchair design, like the addition of pneumatic tyres to increase speed.
However, the biggest change came during 1970, lighter and even more more powerful materials were employed for lightweight wheelchairs used in sports. Events such as the Boston Marathon in 1975 - which was the first main race to include a division for wheelchairs - showed how far the sport had come, and additional design improvements allowed more wheelchair users to take part in different sports.
More materials, like lightweight titanium,cobalt chrome, carbon fibre, stainless steel, and aircraft aluminium, are actually used in the creation of wheelchairs. This lightness leads to faster speed, and the improved firmness of the materials and structures offers greater stability. And in order to add more speed, better aerodynamic designs were used to wheelchairs.
And now that increasingly more sports are beginning to become well-known, wheelchair developers are now beginning to personalize the wheelchairs based on what sports it will be used. As an example, wheelchairs employed for tennis have front wheels while basketball wheelchairs has different amounts of wheels.
For wheelchairs used in marathons, the wheels used are bigger but thinner and the top of the wheel is angled inwards to become more stable and faster.
And so there are other developments
As technological advances continue being made, and handicapped sports become progressively competitive, the call to make additional improvements to wheelchair designs continues. This is particularly noticeable in sports where speed is everything and hundredths of a second can make a difference.
This short article from The Engineer details how David James, a sports engineer at Sheffield Hallam University, worked with athlete Dave Holding in 2003 to find new ways to improve the design of the wheelchair for racing. Making use of the 'computational fluid dynamics', they have discovered ways on how to reduce the drag so that about 0.03 seconds will be saved in a 100-metre sprint--a time that make a loser a winner.
This information on the BBC website again shows how seriously the search for speed is taken, conveying tests which took place in 2010 by UK Sport in partnership with BAE Systems where the Airbus wind tunnel was used to calculate drag loads and discover new ways to improve wheelchair design to minimise air resistance.
Up To Where an it Go?
As time goes on, more and more developments were added to wheelchair designs and thanks to these improvements, disabled athletes can now easily join in these sporting events.
Interestingly, as new advances are made, one problem is that athletic performance will become much more about technology and that the top echelon of athletics may only be a realistic prospect for those with plenty of money to afford it.
Regardless of this concern, it will not avoid anyone from experiencing the exciting spectacle of the 2012 Paralympics as the best athletes on earth display their skills and the latest advancements in wheelchair design to delight the crowds and with a little luck break a few world records. The lightweight wheelchairs benefits is truly a remarkable contribution on the part of athletes who never stopped believing that they can still play sports like normal people do