The sneakers' battle: high-tech shoes are the new "doping agent" in sports

News
The sneakers' battle: high-tech shoes are the new "doping agent" in sports
The sneakers' battle: high-tech shoes are the new "doping agent" in sports
4 August 2021, 17:25SportPhoto: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The Tokyo Olympics turned out to be generous with records in athletics disciplines. Experts cite revolutionary sneakers as one of the reasons. Leading manufacturers are so successful in technology that many consider the Olympics to be not a battle of athletes, but a battle of sneakers.

Even before the start of the Olympics, the leadership of the International Athletics Federation was faced with demands to ban high-tech footwear, according to the Daily Mail. Sports technology has gone so far that many people quite seriously compare the latest models of Nike and Puma with doping. Carbon fiber plates and cushioning cushions in the outsole help athletes easily beat their own and world records, while specially designed treadmills further enhance the effect. As a result, experts say that only thanks to technology, the achievements of modern athletes are incomparable with what their predecessors achieved.

It is curious that athletes react to high-tech shoes very individually - some only thanks to sneakers improve their results by 10%. According to experts, it is often because of the access to new models of sneakers and the reactions to them that determines whether a runner gets to the Olympics or watches her on the couch.

The sneaker problem was first raised after the marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio di Janeiro, when commentators and viewers noticed that all three male medalists wore a prototype Nike Vaporfly 4% sneaker. Two years later, these shoes with an unusually thick sole appeared on all track and field tracks. The technology that coupled a carbon fiber plate (which the manufacturer claims “provides momentum and stabilization during take off”) with ultra-responsive foam has led to massively breaking world records in mid to long track athletics in 2019. distances. Scientists also estimate that since the Nike Vaporfly hit the market, the world's top 50 male marathon runners have improved their performance by an average of 2%.

In the footsteps of Nike, many other companies have also released their sneaker models with carbon fiber plates and springy foam. To halt this high-tech arms race, which threatened to go far, the International Federation of World Athletics introduced new rules regarding shoe sole thickness in January 2020. They related to all athletics disciplines, except for high and long jump. The maximum sole thickness is 20 mm for distances up to 400 m and 25 mm for any longer distances.

Photo:Nike

At the current Olympics, during the final 400-meter hurdles, not only the strongest runners - Norwegian Carsten Warholm and American Rai Benjamin - were in the spotlight, but also the shoes on their feet - the Puma EvoSpeed Future Faster + and Nike Air Zoom Maxfly, respectively. This time Warholm won the world record, but Benjamin lost just a little - and also broke the previous world record.

Photo:Puma

The Puma evoSPEED Future Faster +, which Warholm was wearing, was co-developed by the developers of Mercedes Formula 1. The spikes have a carbon fiber plate in the outsole to help transfer energy and increase speed during the race. Benjamin's Nike Air Zoom Maxfly spikes are similar. They also have a carbon fiber plate, but in addition, a Zoom Air cushion in the forefoot, which, according to the manufacturer, "provides lightness and elasticity with every step."

By the way, Karsten Warholm criticized the Nike pillows - saying that this is like inserting a mini-springboard into a sneaker, and this should not be in sports. His own spikes, according to Warholm, are reliable, thin and light - nothing more. “Of course, technology will always be present in sports, but I would not want them to interfere with the results. This is important”, - Warholm said.

The great Usain Bolt also criticizes the new generation of sports shoes. The Jamaican sprinter believes that the records set in such shoes cannot be compared with the achievements of previous eras of athletics, and that if he had such a pair at the time, he could run 100 meters in less than 9.5 seconds.

Found a typo in the text? Select it and press ctrl + enter