BMW shows the US Paralympic Team their Support
This year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will definitely be one to remember. BMW designed an aerodynamically efficient, carbon-fiber racing wheelchair that will be customized for each Team USA athlete participating in the marathon and track events. The chairs were created by the same team, BMW’s Designworks, which designed the carbon bobsleds for Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
BMW’s Designworks started the project almost a year and a half ago. Paralympic gold medalist and six time world champion wheelchair racer Josh George has been working closely with the team and has been one of the few to test the chair. The three aspects the team wanted to improve were aerodynamics, the stiffness of the chassis, and how it fits the athlete’s body.
In an interview with Composites Manufacturing Magazine, George explains, “If I’m pushing the BMW and other racers are pushing aluminum frames, I’m going to be able to go the same speed as them with less energy exerted. That means at the end of a race, the last 5K, the last 10K, I’m going to have more in the tank than they are.”
It wasn’t until the 1980s, that companies began to build custom wheelchairs designed for racing competitions. Now thanks to the growing popularity of the sport, there are even companies that design wheelchairs just for racing like Honda in Japan.
George tells CNN, “It really shines a light on the fact that we are athletes first, we’re not wheelchair users.” The chairs will be available in time for the Paralympics starting in September 7, 2016 in Rio.