Posted on 8/27/2012 8:08 AM by Grace Jeffers

In the wake of the Olympics there is always a surge of excitement about sports. We are all inspired by the athletes’ world-record-breaking performances and passion, their success at making their own marks on history. What we don’t often realize is how the clothing they wear, the equipment they use and the very stadium they compete in are contributing to their outstanding performances. Material Connexion, the global materials consultants and library, currently has an exhibition on view in its New York City location that highlights some of the innovative sports equipment that has been engineered in the last few years, made of materials that enhance both the speed and comfort of the Olympic athletes.


"From cycling helmets to swimsuits, an improved aerodynamic profile can provide the edge in competitions where the difference between winning medals and going home empty-handed is often measured in hundredths of seconds or fractions of centimeters," says Dr. Andrew Dent, vice president of materials research at Material ConneXion.


The objects on display fall into three categories: clothing, equipment and materials used to construct the sporting arenas. From Speedo’s swimsuit (designed for Olympians and statistically proven to increase athlete’s speed), to Nike’s computer-woven sneakers and official 2012 USA high-visibility windbreaker, (co-designed with Marcus Gaab and embedded with glass microbeads), the clothing is engineering new fabric technology. The equipment displayed, from volleyballs to bow and arrows made from carbon fiber and magnesium alloys, to an Hermes saddle with replaceable lightweight carbon inner layers, are cutting-edge and inspirational. The construction materials range from Dow’s lightweight recycled plastic stadium cladding to innovative turf used for golf greens and field hockey pitches.   


If you’re like me and are experiencing some post-Olympics withdrawal, this exhibition is not only educational, but brings back a little of the excitement of the Games themselves. The exhibition is on through September 28th; for more information about Material Connexion, please visit