London 2012 Paralympic silver medallist Shelly Woods shows of the new wheel design

BAE reveals 'revolutionary' wheelchair racing wheel

A "revolutionary" new wheelchair racing wheel has been unveiled by engineering giant BAE Systems.

The firm said it will continue as UK Sport's research partner in the run-up to the next Olympic Games in Brazil, adding that the move will give summer and winter sports athletes access to cutting-edge technology.

The new racing wheel is said to improve acceleration by up to 20 per cent as it is three times stiffer than previous designs.

Its rigidity reduces a force known as “toe-in” – where the wheel bends inwards – caused by wheelchair athletes' characteristic 'punching' motion on their push stroke and the increased lateral stiffness also means the new wheels no longer bend inwards, reducing friction between them and the track, improving speed and acceleration.  

London 2012 Paralympic silver medallist Shelly Woods, who helped unveil the new wheel in London, said: "Paralympic sport is growing year on year in strength and depth, and being able to make use of the best in British engineering, thanks to this partnership between BAE Systems and UK Sport, can help keep British athletes at the forefront of this fiercely competitive environment.

"Having access to this kind of expertise gives us a huge boost and motivates me to train hard and continue to work on my racing technique every day, safe in the knowledge I have wonderful support around me."

Preparatory work is already underway at BAE to apply wind-tunnel technology and expertise to help improve the racing speed of the GB Bobsleigh Team and the company has also begun investigating a simulator to enable GB Taekwondo athletes to develop new skills while significantly reducing the risk of injury through repetitive impact.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said: "The difference between success and failure in sport can often come down to the smallest of margins. The cutting-edge technology from BAE Systems contributed to British athletes' incredible success in the run-up to and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The new wheel was developed at BAE Systems' research centre in Bristol.

Simon Howison, engineering projects director at BAE Systems, said: "This partnership will continue to help us demonstrate how engineering can be applied in many different areas and encourage more young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths."

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