The IAAF Diamond League in London last weekend saw many great performances by European athletes, not least Karsten Warholm and Sifan Hassan’s European records in the 400m hurdles and 5000m respectively.
With the London Stadium again playing host to Great Britain’s leading athletics meeting and the world’s leading athletes, it was noticed by many athletics fans and competitors alike that the Mondo track was still functioning at the very highest level and retained its status as a fast track that was the centre piece of a world-class event.
Many people in the stadium naturally assumed that the track on display was still the nine-lane Mondotrack surface, an upgraded version of the product put down in the Bird’s Nest Stadium ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games – with Mondo having been the Official Supplier to every Olympic Games since 1976 – that was laid in August 2011, a year ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
However, what many people didn’t realise is that particular track was removed in early 2016 as the stadium prepared to host the IAAF World Championships London 2017 just over a year later and a new surface, using 17,000m2 of improved Mondotrack WS was laid in May 2016.
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It is this surface that athletes have performed on at last four IAAF Diamond League meetings as well as, obviously, the World Championships two years ago.
At the time of the new track being laid, it drew plaudits from far and wide.
'On Mondo tracks, I got my first world record and won several Olympic medals, so I'm sure the company will provide excellent service and products,' said IAAF President Sebastian Coe, who had endorsed the original deal that saw Mondo supply the previous track when he was the Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.
Subsequently, in the wake of a phenomenally success world championships, there was time for reflection about how the track had performed, but the praise continues to this day.
'For any championships and whichever company, the competition and training equipment needs to be such that it both looks good as well as well manufactured. The organiser needs to have complete faith that any equipment is fit for purpose and will not break down during the competition,” commented Keith Davies, the Head of Sport for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
“This is a situation I have witnessed at previous championships at the highest level, even at Olympic Games.
'Most items of equipment is handled by large by teams of volunteers under the direction of experienced technical officials and this equipment as a result needs to be both robust and easy to use.
'Technical support on site is vital in the whole process and with developments in both manufacture and design this is becoming even more important, particularly when computers and software is involved as there is rarely time for ‘newcomers’ to become familiar with the software but in particular to be able to resolve issues that may arise. A technician who has experience of the software will no doubt have come across the problems previously and will immediately be able to understand the problem and resolve.
'In London in the summer of 2017 we had good MONDO technicians who understood the issues and were able to overcome any problems quickly. In addition the ‘look’ of the equipment was excellent, in particular considering the time timelines for manufacture,' added Davies.
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The Mondotrack WS track – a similar but improved product to the track laid for the Olympic Games – has a two-phase vulcanisation wear layer is a three-dimensional network of deformable elements, with controlled composition and elasticity that provides a significant increase in the elastic response of the surface and ensures uniformity of dynamic response over the whole track.
This feature minimises surface-induced posture adjustments and reduces fatigue. It also guarantees greater control over stride length, which is essential to athletes who have to run a set number of steps in order to reach the correct take-off point.
Mondotrack WS also has a modified 3D Omni-Directional Tessellation that guarantees 20 per cent extra surface drainage, which provides an even greater grip in wet conditions. It also enhances traction to the point where spikes on athletes' shoes do not have to penetrate the track surface in order to grip.
The surface also features Diamond Air-Cell Patented Technology with a bottom layer consisting of an elongated rhomboid-shaped geometric construction, providing the perfect combination of cushioning, energy storage and energy return.
Of course, few athletes competing in London last weekend were aware of the technical details of the track they were running on but they could sense underfoot that the track was one of the best in the world, and in many cases the times and distances proved the point.