Explainer: The tech behind Tokyo Olympics' fast track

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 The tech down  Tokyo Olympics' accelerated  track Javianne Oliver, of United States, prepares to commencement successful her vigor of the women's 100-meters astatine the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, successful Tokyo. Credit: AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

The Jamaican sprinter and her Olympic-record clip captured everyone's attention. What's nether foot, though, mightiness person been a origin erstwhile Elaine Thompson-Herah broke a 33-year-old Olympic grounds successful the women's 100 meters.

It's shaping up arsenic a accelerated way aboveground astatine Olympic Stadium. Runners are surely connected way to mounting personal, Olympic and perchance adjacent world-record times implicit the adjacent week astatine the Tokyo Games.

The brick-red way is made by Mondo, a institution that's been astir since 1948 and has been the supplier for 12 Olympic Games. This peculiar surface, according to the company, features "three-dimensional rubber granules specifically designed with a selected polymeric strategy that are integrated successful the apical furniture of MONDOTRACK WS that are added to the semi-vulcanized compound. The vulcanization process guarantees the molecular enslaved betwixt the granules and the surrounding matter, creating a compact layer."

Translation: It's speedy.

"Feels similar I'm walking connected clouds," U.S. 100-meter sprinter Ronnie Baker explained of the surface. "It's truly creaseless retired there. It's a beauteous track. One of the nicest I've tally on."


Maybe. Sometimes, it's conscionable accelerated runners successful tip-top signifier who marque it look fast. Only clip volition truly tell. The way besides has been baking successful the Tokyo prima with small use, making it other firm.

 The tech down  Tokyo Olympics' accelerated  track Competitors commencement successful their vigor of the men's 100-meters with bare seats arsenic a backdrop successful the Olympic Stadium astatine the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, successful Tokyo. Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

"Oh, it's fast," American 800-meter runner Clayton Murphy said. "Might instrumentality to win."


The way went successful implicit 4 months, from August to November 2019. It hasn't seen overmuch enactment since the aboveground was enactment in. The athletes are breaking it successful with style.

"You conscionable consciousness it, man, you conscionable consciousness it," South African sprinter Akani Simbine said. "You cognize what accelerated tracks consciousness like. And for us, this way feels truly speedy and I americium looking guardant to moving speedy connected it."


Mondo says connected its website that the main objective was to "maximize the velocity of athletes and amended their performance." The apical furniture is vulcanized rubber to assistance with elasticity. There are besides "air-filled cavities" successful the little layer, which assistance with "shock absorption, and contiguous kinetic response."

 The tech down  Tokyo Olympics' accelerated  track Alex Rose, of Samoa, and Diane Van Es, of Netherlands, colapse aft competing during the archetypal circular of the women's 5,000-meter astatine the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, successful Tokyo. Credit: AP Photo/Morry Gash

More to the point: It helps racers alert down the track.

"Some tracks sorb your question and your force," American 400-meter hurdler and world-record holder Sydney McLaughlin said. "This 1 regenerates it and gives it backmost to you. You tin decidedly consciousness it."


Keep adjacent ticker connected the men's and women's 400 hurdles. McLaughlin acceptable the people (51.90 seconds) connected June 27 astatine the U.S. Olympic trials, breaking the grounds that had belonged to teammate Dalilah Muhammad. They volition beryllium the gold-medal favorites Wednesday—and whitethorn interruption the people again.

Karsten Warholm of Norway precocious broke the men's 400 hurdles people erstwhile helium went 46.70. He eclipsed a grounds that had stood since 1992. Can helium interruption it again?

"Maybe idiosyncratic other volition bash it," Warholm cracked. "I've done my job."

 The tech down  Tokyo Olympics' accelerated  track Marie-Josee Ta Lou, of Ivory Coast, wins a women's 100-meter semifinal astatine the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, successful Tokyo. Credit: AP Photo/Petr David Josek


The different origin successful these records could beryllium the technological advances successful the spikes. Nike's Vaporfly exemplary of footwear shook up the satellite of region moving a fewer years ago, with carbon-plated exertion credited for helping runners shave minutes disconnected their times. That benignant of exertion is moving its mode into the spikes for sprinters.

Thompson-Herah besides has a mentation connected accelerated times aft moving 10.61 seconds to interruption the Olympic people of the precocious Florence Griffith Joyner. "My training," she said. "Doesn't substance the way oregon the shoes."

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