Millions of people watched this week as badminton teams put down their carbon fiber rackets amidst a cheating scandal, the U.S. Women Synchronized Diving Team jump from iconic London 2012 concrete diving boards and Oscar Pistorius gave his all in the 400-meter dash on his carbon fiber blades . Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite athletic equipment and apparatuses have already made several appearances in sports events around London, making a strong show for the durable material properties.
In the archery event, which completed on Thursday, August 2, Im Dong-hyun achieved a 72-arrow mark world record of 696 by three points. That’s some straight shooting! Would it have been possible without the material advances of carbon fiber and aluminum in the arms of the modern recurve bow? Possibly, however, it is certain that advances in this field have made the modern recurve faster, quieter and more accurate than previous designs.
Approximately 136 Olympic divers jumped off the concrete diving platforms designed by architect Zara Hadid and shaped in sturdy FRP molds. The molds held 942,000 pounds of concrete overnight and will be reused as playground equipment. Most of the London Olympic stadium materials will be reused in London and future sports venues.
At North Greenwich Arena, Gabby Douglas, U.S. gold medal gymnastics Olympian flew on the FRP pultruded uneven bars. Douglas earned her nickname “Flying Squirrel” because of her ability to release high into the air during this event. The U.S. women’s team won the first gold medal in gymnastics since 1996.
A few teams might’ve been ousted from the women’s badminton event, but the carbon fiber rackets are just coming in. Many teams are using carbon fiber to lighten the handle and shaft of the racket. According to Wired.com, today the rackets are becoming so engineered to fit the player’s needs. Players bring rackets that are enhanced for power or speed – using a traditional wooden racket would hinder a modern athlete’s performance.
It’s been an exciting week for London Olympiads. There is only one week left to go, keep your eyes open for more FRP composite athletic equipment and the many ways that they will be recycled after.