Academics help athletes in quest for gold

University research plays a crucial role in helping athletes perform to their full potential. Academic partnerships help and advise in specialist areas such as equipment, psychotherapy, rehabilitation, nutrition, health and, most importantly, performance. University World News investigated some of the ways universities are contributing to sport as a whole – with Bournemouth University’s Bryce Dyer showcased amongst the results.

Dyer is a senior lecturer in Product Design and has been working with Irish cyclist Colin Lynch on a new prosthetic leg. The limb must give Colin the competitive edge while remaining within the strict design rules and regulations, “The limb is shaped differently,” said Dyer to reporter Martin Whittaker, “It uses a different method of manufacturing and it’s very very aerodynamic compared to a conventional prosthesis. He [Colin Lynch] relies on a combination of speed and power and aerodynamic efficiency, and it was just to try and give him something that would ultimately help and not hinder him in races.”

It seems to be working as the prosthesis has already cut seconds off the cyclist’s personal best, and he is now looking forward to seeing just how much faster he can get in the London Paralympics.

Such leaps in technology are set to contribute massively to Britain’s Olympic legacy; the specific effects might not be the same for us as for athletes, but the principles underpinning such ground-breaking applications could easily translate into everyday life.  It is advancements in prosthesis like Bryce Dyer’s that look set to help thousands even when the race is over.