The Technology Used by Wheelchair Paralympians | The Tech Race
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The Technology Used by Wheelchair Paralympians | The Tech Race

August 11, 2019


Welcome to the Tech Race. Paralympians are able to reach
speeds of over 40km an hour in a wheelchair
using just their arms thanks to an ever increasing
symbiosis with technology. (PARALYMPIC WHEELCHAIR) The design and materials
used to create these new racing wheelchairs allow athletes
to achieve more speed, stability,
and reach records that were unimaginable
a few years ago. (JAPAN) (TOKYO) (OX ENGINEERING) Near Tokyo, a racing
wheelchair has been created to win the toughest
of competitions. When using the GPX on the track it’s easier to maintain
the top speed. When you want
to reach top speed you can also do it
easily and quickly. That is also a plus. The design of these
racing wheelchairs modern but inspired
in classic elements, is the key to success. This wheelchair is unique
thanks to its three wheels. The rear wheels are tilted to allow for more stability, giving Paralympic
wheelchair competitors the ability to achieve
speeds of over 40km an hour. When I thought
about the shape of the GPX I asked myself,
“Which shape should it be?” Initially, I based the shape on the image
of an arch for archery. Since the frame is the union between the front wheel
and the rear wheels I also thought about a bridge. But the closer shape,
for me, was the katana. A shape like a soft arch. I started working with that. It’s a really cool vehicle. That, for me, comes first. Then there’s the fact that when a racer gets
into this wheelchair, his hands can really move
as if they were his legs. That is also
very important for me. To allow more freedom
of movement, wheels are oval shaped so as not to cause contact
with the user’s underarms. During a race,
there’s a danger that the wheelchair
could tip over. The design minimises this risk because the inclined wheels distribute weight
in an even manner. The reason for being long
is the need for stability. During the curves
in a marathon or on the tracks the wheelchair can roll over so it’s designed to be
difficult to tip over. The weight goes to the outside and the shape of the wheels help prevent the wheelchair
from keeling over. The speed gap between Paralympic wheelchair racers
and sprinters is narrowing. 100m athletes finish
in less than 10 seconds, whilst the best
wheelchair racers clock in at
less than 14 seconds. This major advance
can be attributed to the transition
from aluminium to carbon fibre. Until now I was riding
wheelchairs made of aluminium and now I use
a frame made of carbon. No doubt it has reduced
the weight on the body. Because of this carbon frame the wheelchair absorbs the vibration
of the road surface and makes it almost
imperceptible to the body. Carbon really reduces
the vibration for the racer. When you drive on the road there’s always
an imperfect surface and when you race
on top of that it can slow down your speed. By reducing the vibration
of the road imperfections the carbon frame
helps you to maintain speed. The first official
Paralympic Games was held in Rome 1960. 400 athletes from 23 countries
competed in 8 different sports. All of them wheelchair based. In Seoul 1988,
the Paralympic Games took place for the first time in the same venue
as the Olympic Games. In the Paralympic Games
Rio 2016, 4,350 athletes
competed to reach the podium. A history of success in which technology
has its part. I don’t think it’s good if
only the wheelchair develops. It’s not desirable either
to improve just our body conditions. It’s important to develop both. A balance is necessary. If the wheelchair improves,
the player must also improve. That balance
is very important for me. With a parallel development
of technology and athletes, what does the future of wheelchair racing
hold in store? (THE TECHRACE)

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  1. Later in the future all these Paralympic stuff are going to become so high tech that they'll be able to perform better than Olympians

  2. dear Levishin_ they already do, best marathon time in a wheelchair 1,18,04 – only 100m – 200m and 400m they're slower all other distance they're faster.

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