This is why the achievements of Messi, Federer and Kipchoge are not strictly human


Nanotechnology gives athletes wings and a power bordering on doping

A few days ago, a cocktail of feelings washed over us sports fans: sadness, pleasure and admiration.

The sadness of parting with the most elegant tennis player (probably) to have stepped on a court, winner of 20 “great” and protagonist of some of the best tennis matches in history, Roger Federer.

Then came the pleasure, with the new record of Leo Messi, another, which allowed him to achieve a hundred victories with his team.

And the admiration arose with the fantastic record of Eliud Kipchoge, the best marathon runner in history, who sometimes made us dream in Berlin of being the first human to run a marathon under 2 hours.

Perseverance, quality, discipline and longevity are some of the qualities that unite these legendary athletes. Added together, it gives them a superhuman touch. But there is another factor that determines their performance. His superpowers are perfectly assembled in his shoes or the fabric of his racket. It is a technological ingredient that is invisible to the human eye, at the nanoscale.

From rackets to swimwear, football player clothing or technical footwear, bicycles, golf balls and clubs, skis or fishing rods… All top sports equipment today is under the influence of nanoscale technology.

Nanotechnology enables sports records that were considered unbeatable for a human.

Federer used a Wilson racket with silica nanoparticles. These rackets have more power, resistance and elasticity than non-nanotech rackets, but it’s not just “a little more” – they deliver 50% more hitting power.

Serbian champion Novak Djokovic uses a HEAD racket made of graphene. Graphene is a nanomaterial composed solely of carbon with such dazzling properties that some know it as “the material of God”.

Everything in Lionel Messi, as in any elite footballer, is studied down to the nanomillimeter. They use nanostructured polymeric shin guards, which are lighter and more resistant to a kick to the shin. Nanoclay materials are also used in football liners as barrier materials that retain pressure on the ball for longer.

Messi has kicked nanotech balls that have given him advantages for some of his nearly 800 goals during his career.

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge has used the Nike Alphafly and Nike Vaporfly Next shoes in some of his challenges, the footwear on the edge of technological doping.

Nike is a pioneer in the use of nanotechnology in technical footwear, as is the case with the Mercurial Superfly 360, which adapts so closely to the ankle of football players that they become a real second skin. The sneakers in the marathon elite use foam and carbon fiber plates that literally “catapult” the athlete and whose use is questioned, bordering on technological doping.

The disciplines of these three iconic athletes are not the only ones to have benefited from the benefits of nanotechnology.

For example, another multi-champion, Michael Phelps, broke one of his many records, the 100m butterfly at the World Championships in Rome. It was one of 42 records broken during that World Cup, in addition to the nearly 200 broken in tartan between 2008 and 2010 thanks to the full-body swimsuits made of polyurethane and neoprene with a nanotechnological design that allowed it to repel water. and the buoyancy of the swimmer.

In 2010, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) took matters into its own hands and banned the use of these full-body swimwear.

Formula 1 is under scrutiny for its use of carbon fibers made from the precursor polyacrylonitrile (PAN), expressly banned by the FIA.

Lewis Hamilton has used nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries in McLaren’s KERS system. The excellent combination of weight and charge/discharge capacity or nanoparticles such as CuO, ZnO and ZrO₂ in lubricants reduce friction and wear. Formula 1 also uses braking systems enhanced with carbon nanofibers or nanostructured paints and coatings for drag reduction and thermal management.

One of the disciplines that has benefited most from nanotechnology advancements is cycling. For example, Tour winner Cadel Evans used BMC SLC01 Pro Machine bikes from the Swiss bike manufacturer Co. (BMC).

The main frame of these bicycles is made with carbon nanotubes (CNT), one of the most widely used nanomaterials because of the improvement in the mechanical properties it offers. CNTs are 100 times stronger than steel and five times lighter, minimizing the weight of the bike to less than 1,000g.

The last champion we will talk about is Tiger Woods. In elite golf, the use of nanometals covering the crystalline structure in the club is widespread. In this case they achieve more precision in the stroke and hardness, stiffness and less weight. NanoDynamics’ corporate balls drastically reduce their turns and movements thanks to nanotechnology, allowing for better aiming.

The sports industry has not missed the nanotech revolution and the future sports heroes who will succeed today’s Messi, Federer or Kipchoge will be even more superhuman. Records are no longer unbeatable.

Article published in ‘The conversation‘.

Source: La Verdad


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