Looking back at the London 2012 Olympics where Jamaica won 12 medals including four gold ones, something struck me. Who remembers those Nike uniforms that were supposed to make the team from the United States that much faster – up to 0.023 seconds faster they claimed. The predominantly red uniforms had dimples that mimic a golf ball and was believed to be capable of makiing the Americans close the gap on Bolt and his training partner, Yohan Blake.

Nike said its tests showed an unexpectedly big difference in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races. ”We couldn’t believe the numbers,”  Martin Lotti, Nike’s Olympics creative director was quoted as saying. “That’s not just the difference between first and second place, it’s about making the podium.”

Nike reportedly studied the aerodynamics of golf balls and found the textures and dimples make it more efficient. Patterned patches were on the forearm and leg, the fastest-moving parts of the body. ”The logical thing would have been to make it smoother or use lighter materials, but we challenged ourselves to think differently,” Lotti reportedly said.

Apparently all of that work was virtually for naught; at least for the American male sprinters, as only one, Justin Gatlin, made the podium in the 100m, 200m or 400m. As I recall, Jamaica took five of the six medals in the 100m and 200m for men and three of the six medals in the 100m and 200m for women. In the 400m, the United States’ men failed to win a single medal and their women won two.

I think we can assume all that that project was a bust. Both Gatlin and Gay ran season bests in the 100m and finished third and fourth respectively. In the 200m, the US’s only representative Wallace Spearmon, finished fourth as Jamaica, whose athletes ran without special suits swept all three places, so I guess its back to the drawing board.

The Americans did well these games, Aries Merritt won the sprint hurdles, and the US women’s sprint relay team destroyed the world record, and the men set a new national record so all was not lost. They did run faster so maybe the suits helped them set those times, who knows. Or, maybe it was just that the US had faster people this time around.

However, the bottom line is that one podium place in the men’s sprints  those suits were apparently worth less than that fabric from which they were made.

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levyl Posted by: levyl August 29, 2012 at 9:53 am