Ian Thorpe

Australia's swimming star Ian Thorpe stopped off on the long road to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens at the headquarters of German car manufacturer Audi in Ingolstadt.

The multiple world champion and Olympic gold medallist tested a new swimming costume developed by adidas, the sporting equipment manufacturer. “There are only 18 months to go before the Olympic games start. The tension is building up slowly but surely inside me. This new suit could possibly give me the decisive hundredth of a second advantage to win in Athens”, said the 20-year-old Australian.

Thorpe carried out a test programme in the Audi wind tunnel more accustomed to streamlining Audi's latest road and race cars. Ian, an Audi RS 4 Avant quattro driver, and adidas are working together on a new full body enveloping swimming costume in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games.

The Audi wind tunnel tests should give information about the new suit’s flow dynamics. The Audi wind tunnel engineers have designed and constructed a special platform, to allow Thorpe to lie horizontally in the air stream, so that the flow can be simulated realistically. Smoke, blown into the air stream, will make any turbulence visible.

Because of the differences in flow resistance between water and air, the measurement in air is conducted at a speed 15-times greater than Thorpe achieves in the swimming pool. In order to obtain any meaningful test results, the Audi wind tunnel engineers calculated that the wind speed must be approximately 100 kilometres per hour.

Thorpe is not the first world-class athlete, during his competition training, to trust the expertise of the Audi wind tunnel centre engineers and technicians. In preparation for the 2002/2003-ski season, the German Nordic combination team, current Nordic combined World Cup leader Ronny Ackermann and the Swedish men’s Alpine ski team worked on improving their aerodynamics and tested new race suits and helmets in the Ingolstadt wind tunnel.

Published : 31/01/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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