No one believed that 100 meters could be run under 10 seconds until Usain Bolt did it. How can an athlete be successful enough to win 28 Olympic medals in their career? Have you ever wondered why athletes make bridges while doing high jumps, or how a pole vault athlete can lift themselves up after running? How can two bikes with the same dimensions be 15 kilograms and the other 5 kilograms? Can a technically tweaked sneaker set records for marathoners? All these things have something in common: science and engineering!
The techniques used in sports, the adequacy of the materials, and even the injuries of the athletes can be explained by scientific methods. These explanations, which require interdisciplinary collaboration, offer athletes a safer and higher-performance sports life.
I started pole vaulting as a kid and my trainer was also an engineer. He would explain how my speed increases the kinetic energy while running with the pole, and then that energy turns into potential energy to help me jump meters high. The sports that I am interested in have changed over the years, but there is still science and engineering behind every sport. When I have an injury, I can analyze in my head what loads my body is under, or I can imagine the resistance my body position will create while cycling. If I did my thesis in sports technology at Chalmers, I would search for the optimum body position for different bike brands while cycling or the efficiency of the pole vault jumping technics and the poles that athletes use. Courses like computational fluid dynamics, material mechanics, composite structures and finite element analysis in my master’s degree programme, Applied mechanics, make it possible for me to work with those technologies.
Chalmers Sports and Technology Center
, which conducts a lot of sports-related research, works with national team athletes, researchers, and engineers. One of the research projects is with the Swedish Swimming Federation
for the understanding of power development and water resistance when swimming. The other research is about power measurement with sensors in ski-pole
to understand the relation between the force the athletes apply and the result for the performance. This was a master thesis of some Chalmers students in 2016. Those students have a company now called Skisens
to manufacture and improve these sensors!
Who knows, maybe in the future we can develop a technique that will allow athletes to run 100 meters in less time, or we can produce a material that will reduce the friction of water while swimming? Cooperation with different disciplines and academic/economic support are the opportunities you can find at Chalmers Sports Technology Center.