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17 November 2008 - PR 08/156

Engineering solutions to aid the quest for medals

Paralympic frames developed by experts at Loughborough University have already been used by one gold medal-winning athlete – and could benefit even more over the next four years.

A team of engineers at the University’s Sports Technology Institute were set the challenge of developing new frames for four Beijing-bound Paralympic athletes by UK Sport’s Research and Innovation programme. Led by Steve Carr, the team took on the task and had just a few weeks to create frames that were light weight and easy to use.

As part of the design process Steve, and his colleagues Andrew Hallam and Simon Neal, met with each athlete to discuss their individual needs and any issues they had with their existing frames. Using this information they were able to create personalised frames designed to boost performance.

The team worked with discuss and shot putters Danny West and Gemma Prescott, archer Danielle Brown and thrower Kieron Murphy. Danielle won gold in Beijing and set a new world record, with Kieron achieving a personal best.

Speaking about the project Steve said: “With each person having completely unique requirements, each separate project brought with it different problems and solutions. The existing frames were either too heavy, flimsy, not transportable, or actually impeded the athletes performance.

“With the archer frame for Danielle Brown, for example, we redesigned it to address the specific concerns she had about the equipment. Our modifications ensured there was consistent positioning of the lower limbs and that the total load was spread over a greater area, making maximum use of the permitted space. The redesign eliminated the sinking of the frame on soft ground and the wider base made it much more stable on indoor shoots. The incorporation of an alignment and locking system also made the initial set up of the frame accurate and consistent.

“All of these alterations gave Danielle a much more stable platform than she had previously been used to and we were rewarded with immediate results as she shot a personal best when using the frame for the first time.”

Danielle said she was delighted with her new equipment. She added: “I am extremely grateful to the University’s Sports Technology Institute as my shooting has improved so much since getting my new stool.”

Research and Innovation Consultant at UK Sport, Dr Scott Drawer said: “The team at Loughborough have made a real performance impact here. We are confident the development of this over the next four years can really help advance knowledge of and insight into performance in disability sports.”

Steve and his team are continuing to look at frames and accessories for Paralympic athletes, and hope their work will benefit even more athletes in the future.

– Ends –

For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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