It might be a tall order for European athletes to emulate their predecessors when Tokyo last staged the Olympic Games but at least nobody will be able to blame the track for any shortcomings on this occasion.
Back in 1964, European athletes took exactly half of the 36 gold medals on offer at the first Olympic Games in Asia – compared to 11 golds from 47 events in Rio three years ago, the first Olympic Games to be staged in South America – and the last one to have an athletics competition to be staged on ‘cinder’.
But despite the efforts of the local officials using the best equipment available 55 years ago and the plethora of outstanding performances – eight world records and another 17 Olympic records were set across the events, some of them by such European athletics icons as Gaston Roelants and Iolanda Balas – the athletics track was not a level playing field. Wear and tear, in particularly to the inside lanes, became evident as the eight days of thrilling and frenetic competition took its toll.
However, with the advent of synthetic surfaces at the next Olympic Games those issues soon became less of a concern and they will be rendered even more of a distant memory next summer.
With one year to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games athletics competitions, which will be held from 31 July to 9 August 2020 (with the Olympics themselves taking place from 24 July to 9 August) Mondo will start laying the track to be used in August as the construction of the Olympic Stadium in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, the centrepiece of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, continues at a pace.
The work on laying the track, which will be constructed from the company’s latest product, Mondotrack WS TY, is expected to take about a month.
The Mondo installers will get to work little more than three months after Mondo, European Athletics’ Green Inspiration Partner, was appointed as the sole supplier for athletics equipment and the track for the forthcoming Olympic Games, the 12th successive Games in which the company has provided the track surface for the athletics competition.
The track is an upgraded version of the Mondotrack WS product which was delivered and installed for the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The key innovation to an already world-renowned product is a three-dimensional network of purpose-made rubber granules which have a specific type of polymeric system.
The rubber granules are introduced already semi-vulcanised into the main track mixture during the production process, which then guarantees a molecular bond between the granules and the surrounding compound, resulting in an absolutely solid top layer.
TY granules, as they are called hence the name of the Tokyo 2020 track product, are specifically designed to optimise track deformation and to improve energy return during the propulsion phase of a runner – whether a sprinter or distance runner, jumper or javelin thrower – while ensuring optimal shock absorption.
The granules also improve uniformity of dynamic response over the track surface to help athletes control their stride lengths, running rhythms and stability while in competition.
In addition, the Mondotrack WS TY surface is GREENGUARD Gold certified and contributes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium’s environmental design criteria.
The world has changed in so many different ways since Tokyo last staged the Olympic Games and, with respect to athletics, perhaps nowhere more so than with the type of surface that the world’s best athletes experience to demonstrate their skills and talents upon every four years.