European athletes will not have to wait too long for Mondo's new tracks

Dina Asher-Smith
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Dina Asher-Smith after winning the 2019 200m world title on a Mondotrack WS surface in Doha's Khalifa International Stadium. 

The Mondo tracks for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships have already been installed, with the Olympic Stadium’s Mondo WS surface being completed just three weeks ago, so the European Athletics Green Inspiration Partner is now looking further into the future.

In the wake of the phenomenal performances produced at the World Athletics Championships last month – with European athletes improving on 34 national records in Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium as well as setting four new continental marks – Mondo technicians believe that they are close to releasing new track surfacing products in the coming years, many of which will inevitably be installed at European locations.

In addition to embracing sustainability standards to a much higher degree than ever before, a crucial innovation will be in the track’s ability to assist athletes to even greater feats.

“The key theme for technical developments in track surfaces in the coming years is going to elasticity,” commented Andrea Marenghi, Mondo’s Technical Director of Research and Development, speaking to European Athletics.

“We are working on the physical shape of the track in the sense that we provide a specific form and specific shape to the top layer and then a specific form and specific shape to the bottom layer of the track we produce. This is very important because it helps creates the elastic response because of the air pockets in the bottom (layer) and because of the grip you can provide for athletics shoes depending on the shape of the top (layer). This is part of the propriety track technology we have developed.

“We are also working on the nature of the compounds we use in track surfaces and we continuing to work on trying to identify different polymers with different formulations and to try different (polymer) shapes so that the top layer is more responsive when a shoe grips it, and the bottom layer gives a better elastic response.

Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships
European Athletics
Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

“We are continuing to work in this area, trying new polymers, new formulations both with what I call traditional technology or simulation technologies like APM (Application Performance Management) or forms of  computer aided design,” added Marenghi, doing his best to make the complex laboratory research undertaken at Mondo's European HQ in the Italian town of Alba understandable to the non-specialist.

However, what is not is doubt is that the next generation of Mondo tracks is now on the horizon and these should benefit athletes of all disciplines and all standards.

The gulf in standards between current athletics tracks and the first synthetic tracks which saw the light of day just over 50 years ago in the 1960s, with the Mexico City 1968 Olympics Games being the first global athletics meeting to take place on anything other than a cinder track, is already huge and just set to grow further.

“We are looking at the results of the athletes from not only the world championships in Doha but also the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, which had a particular type of hydraulic track. It is always interesting to see how the athletes are getting these results and, in the future, I think we will use even more tracking technology (examining athletes in action as they perform).

“In the last few years and have had many more opportunities to study the performance of the single athlete on a single track with the help of tracking technologies. I believe we can get a lot of help from this in the development of their new products. In addition, new hardware and software that is better able to track the performance of the athlete is appear on the market and helping us to measure the performance of the athletes in relation to tracks.”

Marenghi deliberately did not put any timescale on when the next generation of Mondo tracks were likely to enter the public domain but it is unlikely European athletes will have to wait too long before getting the opportunity to test out the results of Mondo’s current research in a top-level international competition.