A competitor at the 2012 London Summer Olympics will be running on carbon fiber blades attached to his amputated legs. Double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa is expected to compete in the Olympic 400 meter race.
The case of Pistorius serves to underscore the growing importance of technology and, specifically, mechanical engineering in sports. For Pistorius, technology has given him a chance to compete. Other Olympic athletes look to technology to gain that extra one-hundredth of a second that is the difference between a gold medal (and endorsements) and failure.
Better to rely on technology than chemicals.
The audio link below includes an interview with Phillippa Oldham who oversees manufacturing at the U.K.’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The discussion centers on sports engineering advances and whether they provide competitors with an unfair advantage:
Perhaps there should be an Olympic category for enhanced/augmented people. Items such as the carbon fiber blades, I suspect, have much more "rebound", lacking a better term, than an normal achiles tendon. As such, the technology is providing a definite advantage over the un-augmented competitor. Taking this to a silly extreme, what about the competitor who has roller skates put on the end of his/her prosthesis? Just keep augmented and unaugmented competititions separate.