Adidas London 2012 Team GB kit: The tech to win us medals
With the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, Team GB sportswear partner Adidas invited us to take a look at the range of kit available for our athletes and explain some of the tech that went into creating the garments.
The range is split into different categories, from competition wear through to training, presentation and "Villagewear". The latter section is sport inspired but casual, designed for downtime in the Olympic Village and, along with the presentation suit, had the biggest input from Stella McCartney.
The presentation suit will probably become one of the most recognisable pieces of kit, as this will be worn for public appearances, such as TV interviews, and for those crucial podium photos as we snap up the gold medals, or silver ... or bronze.
McCartney's involvement in the development of the Team GB kit did draw a few questions upon the public launch, but before you ask what she knows about sportswear, it's important to understand that McCartney has been working with Adidas for many years, so this isn't a new arrangement.
As Adidas showed us the range of clothing, it was made clear that the product came first: ie, that McCartney's design wouldn't ever get in the way of the performance side of Adidas's kit range.
To emphasise the point that visual design wouldn't override performance, Adidas showed us the weightlifting kit. The Team GB kit is mostly blue (too blue, some have said), but because of the use of Kevlar fabrics in the weightlifter's kit, it stays black.
And there is a surprising amount of tech and development that has gone into the creation of the athletes' garments. A new version of Techfit PowerWeb is included in many of the clothes (above). Adidas has been using PowerWeb for some time, but this latest version is applied via a screen-printing process, which Adidas says gives much more freedom in how it can be set to task.
You'll find it on the likes of the track and field kit, wrestling, boxing vests, hockey and football shirts. The idea is that the garment can help support some of the typical movements performed in a particular sport.
Each of the garments has been developed in collaboration with the athletes who will use it for their particular sport. In some cases, Adidas told us, because this is competition wear, athletes get to choose the garment that suits them best. If they don't want the incorporated Deflexion padding in the archery kit, for example, they can wear traditional pads instead. If they don't want PowerWeb in the hockey shirts, team members can opt to go without.
And then you have the shoes. It's an impressive sight to see all the shoes lined up and ready for all sports. Adidas is supplying 41 different types of shoe for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
These shoes aren't all unique to the games, many are an evolution of Adidas's existing range of performance footwear, but on average the latest models come in at 25 per cent lighter than at the last Games in Beijing.
From boxing and the specially designed hiking sailing boots the only footwear that escapes the red colouring are those for trampolining and gymnastics. The 99g Adizero Prime SP sprint spikes (above) are 62 per cent lighter than the Beijing 2008 Demolisher spikes and have been developed with input from American Tyson Gay and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
Adidas does point out that when it comes to competition, athletes have a choice of footwear, so those sponsored by other brands such as Nike will compete in their sponsor's footwear as it's classed as technical equipment.
Like the presentation suit, however, there is a pair of Super Nova Glide 4 (below) - the official Team GB podium shoe - designed to be worn for medal acceptance. This has caused something of a spat between shoe sponsors, as some athletes are contractually obliged to wear a rival brand. There has been the suggestion that some winners may appear barefoot to avoid breaching contract.
And you want to know what all the shoes are in the headline picture? Of course you do. Working left to right, top row we have: Adizero Pro Model o 2 (basketball), Adizero Prime (handball), Adipure Essence Men (tennis), Adipower Barricade women (tennis), Adipure Essense women (tennis), Adizero Feather 2 (tennis), Adipower Barricade men (tennis), Adipower Stabil 10 (handball), Adizero Table Tennis.
Second row: Adizero MD 2 (800 and 1500m), Adizero Avanti 2 (distance spike), Adizero Prime Accelerator (sprinting), Adizero Prime Finesse (sprinting), Adizero Prime SP (sprinting), Adizero TJ 2 (triple jump), Adizero Javelin 2, Adizero HJ Flow (high jump), Adizero LJ 2 (long jump).
Third row: Adizero HJ Stability (high jump), Adizero Discus/Hammer 2, Adizero Cadence 2 (distance spike), Adipower Sailing (Trapeze), Adipower Rowing, Sailing (Hiking), Adizero Adios 2 (marathon), Adizero Feature 2 (running), Adizero Wrestling.
Bottom row: Super Nova Glide 4 (Team GB podium shoe), Adipower Fencing, Adipower Hockey, Adipure Artistic (gymnastics), Adipure Trampoline, Adipower Boxing, Adipower Weightlifting, Feather Elite (badminton), Adizero Shot Put 2.