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Advancing Technology in Paralympic Sports

 

Across a broad variety of disciplines, technological advances are at the forefront of today’s Paralympic and disabled sports.

In Paralympic running events, blade prosthetic limbs manufactured by companies such as Pace Rehabilitation are made from up to 80 layers of carbon fibre, which individually are each thinner than human hair.

Meanwhile, so-called ‘blind caps’ have been developed for use in sending vibrations to the caps of visually-impaired swimmers, alerting them of when to turn at the end of their lane. This is intended to replace the existing system which relies upon the swimmer’s coach physically tapping them with a pole as they approach the lane’s end.

Similarly, competitors in certain events are beginning to benefit from advancements in 3D-printing, with examples including the development by Titan Robotics of a shield to increase aerodynamics for semi-paralysed cyclist, Billy Lister.

Following such huge advances in Paralympic technologies, blade prosthetics have advanced to such a level that competitors using these carbon fibre limbs on both legs in fact perform better than those using just one alongside a natural limb.

As a result of such huge technological improvements, it has become increasingly vital that athletes have access to the best possible equipment in order to successfully compete.

Julie Rogers was just 13 years old when she made her Team GB Paralympic debut in 2012, and is now one of the highest-ranked T42 100m runners in the world, after receiving a specialist prosthetic through Pace Rehabilitation..

Born without the tibia and fibula in her right leg, Julie underwent an operation to shorten her leg in order to be fitted with an above-the-knee prosthetic at the age of just five.

As a teenager, despite having grown up with an NHS-issued prosthetic limb unsuited to running, Julie was ranked 4th in the world just one competitive season after she made the move from Team GB’s sitting volleyball squad to launch her career in 100m sprinting.

Now able to compete to her full potential using the 3S80 Sport blade prosthetic, Julie featured in the 2016 Rio Paralympics before even having turned 18.

As such, Julie’s ability to fulfil her enormous potential following her sponsorship embodies the message of opportunity and accessibility in sports that forms the basis of our #DontQuitDoIt campaign, which aims to raise awareness of and encourage participation in disability sport.

As the standards of Paralympic sports increase as a result of these technological developments, it is important that the costs of specialist equipment (blade prosthetics can cost upwards of several thousand pounds) do not isolate potentially talented athletes from competing. As such, we hugely value our continued commitment to both regional and national disabled sports-based charities, in our sponsorship of and work with groups such as SportsAid and Yorkshire Sport Foundation.

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