THE UK SPORTS INSTITUTE (UKSI), which delivers tailored services to individual sports and athletes, is currently working with a number of technology partners to help bring innovative solutions to those working within British sport.
Fluent, a world leader in fluid flow modelling, has recently undertaken a project to determine the most effective way of improving equipment design in cycling.
The company, based in Sheffield, has a track record of success in sport with its CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software successfully employed across a number of projects - in ski-jumping (posture), yachting (keel design) and Formula One motor racing (the balance of drag and down force).
With the UKSI, Fluent examined the use of disk wheels in cycling, focusing on the so-called 'sail effect’ of the rear wheel and showing how, in a cross wind, they can reduce drag by nearly a fifth.
Although many cyclists use rear disk wheels, so far there has been little clear evidence of their beneficial effect. The analysis of wheel performance adds to the growing body of knowledge that CFD has provided to date for cycling applications, much of which cannot be obtained from wind tunnel tests.
ROGER MORELAND, Director of the UK Sports Institute, says that the margin between success and failure in elite sport is so narrow that it is vital that new advances in technology are harnessed.
"Over the last 30 years, whole new scientific disciplines such as sports psychology, sports nutrition and sports biomechanics have emerged, becoming part of the supporting framework behind elite sportsmen and women. More recently, the importance of sports engineers and technologists to high-performance sport has been recognised.
"The UK Sports Institute is investing in these areas to give Britain’s top athletes every possible advantage as they compete for medals on the world stage. Further investment will be required in the future to ensure that implementation is as successful as possible."
Earlier this year, the UKSI played a significant role in developing new runners for Winter Olympic Bronze medallist Alex Coomber’s sled in the run-up to the Salt Lake Games. Kristan Bromley, Britain’s top male Skeleton athlete, described the impact of the Institute’s Technology and Innovation Programme.
"What the Institute does well is listen and respond to the needs of the sport," he says. "To be successful we have to use science, engineering and innovative thinking to get us to the start line with a chance of a medal."