Sprinters may struggle to break records at the London 2012 Olympics because of the the swirling winds inside the stadium.
Blustery conditions prevailed as Lord Sebatian Coe, chairman of London organizing committee, and Hannah England, silver medallist at the recent World Championships, put the rust-red track to the test for the first time.
The winds were at 60 degrees and created a direct headwind down the far straight. Often, the strength was more than triple the legal limit of 2 meters per second.
Joe Hoekstra, project manager for track makers Mondo, also revealed the company had tried to address previous complaints from middle distance and endurance runners that their tracks were too hard.
“We have tried to make the track softer, but also faster for distance runners,” he said. “There had been complaints the Mondo track was too hard, and we have tried to address those.”
However, former Trinidad and Tobago star sprinter Ato Boldon had tweeted that the harder the surface the faster the time for sprinters.
Hoekstra said the nap of the volcanized rubber had been laid in a geometric fashion to help both sprinters and endurance runners.
The rubber lies in a slight angle toward the racing direction, which allows sprinters to spring off the track. Distance runners tend to land with a flatter foot action, which folds over the shock absorption of the matting underneath rather than compressing it. He said the track, similar to the surface used at the World Championships in Daegu, had been well received by sprinters and distance runners.
Locog chairman Seb Coe said the track “felt fast” and instinctively felt to him similar to the one in Zurich, which is an intimate stadium. He added that he could not control the weather.
London organizers will hope, however, that the track is a positive aid to sprinters and that the wind isn’t an issue, allowing Usain Bolt the best possible opportunity to repeat his Beijing feat of breaking records in the 100 and 200 meters.
The controversial stadium wrap, which is now sponsored by Dow Chemicals, was not in place, but its design — a series of bunting-style twisted triangles — likely won’t significantly reduce the wind entering the stadium.
It was also was confirmed that the reddish colour was chosen over other options such as blue, orange and even black because it satisfied broadcasters and offered a uniform fresh look that coordinated with the white and black seats in the stadium and the green grass infield.