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Testing Provides Foundation for adidas' New Olympic Products

May 16, 2000

Colorado Springs, 16/05/2000 - adidas was founded on Adi Dassler's principles of "Listen, Test, Modify" with athletes of all kinds. Staying true to this motto, the new range of innovative Olympic products reflects this procedure, with top adidas athletes giving their input on the new designs.

For track and field, an example of this testing was the one conducted with varying Performance Plate rigidity, using Ato Boldon and Donovan Bailey as subjects in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, respectively. There were four Plates tested, plus one control model with no Plate for a total of five scenarios. Each of the other shoe elements were identical-same upper, same outsole, same spike pattern. Each athlete ran 20 meters at maximum speed after 20 meters of acceleration from a standing position. They performed this action 10 times, twice for each shoe condition with elements such as temperature, wind and humidity noted in each case to ensure correct results. Based on the test, the data showed that the Performance Plates were effective and which stiffness worked best for each athlete.

In swimming, one of the main tests was conducted in Sydney. This experiment involved an ideal mathematical model for each swimmer, including Ian Thorpe. The athlete wore various suits, including a competitor's model, and the performance in each suit was compared against the mathematical ideal. Measurements were taken for starts, turns and swimming speed. Besides gauging speeds at various points using timers, the study measured stroke length, frequency and hand speed relative to horizontal stroke speed. This was accomplished with the help of two cameras (one underwater and one overhead) and strategically placed timing gates. By using the timing devices and the cameras, performance was shown to be more closely correlated with efficiency of movement than laminar flow (hydrodynamics).

Cycling was another area with extensive testing. In addition to the normal athlete feedback, studies were conducted in a wind tunnel at the University of Washington. Various experiments were carried out, and many factors were considered, including the influence wearing a helmet, wearing booties (shoe coverings), foot position, head position and so on. One test examined how the cut of a suit and the material used affect drag. In this test, 12 apparel conditions were used. Each suit was put into 40 miles per hour (approximately 65 km/h) wind for one minute.

Drag accounts for almost 90 percent of the resistive force a cyclist experiences at speeds over 25 miles per hour (about 40 km/h), with the rider responsible for two-thirds of this. There are also two kinds of drag-form drag, which is the riderÕs shape, and surface drag, which is the rider's skin or its covering. To account for the form drag, adidas designed a suit that allows the rider to sit more comfortably bent at the waist, which is the most aerodynamic position. For the surface drag, the seams were removed from certain areas, which decreased suit drag.

Testing such as this is how adidas develops the most technically advanced products available today.