Aerospace experts on the Fylde have been working closely with two other high flyers – athletes aiming for medals at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
BAE Systems has teamed up with local paralympian Shelly Woods and Olympic bronze taekwondo star Lutalo Muhammad.
The aerodynamics and materials scientists have developed a lighter, stronger wheel for Shelly’s wheelchair which will help her maintain her astonishing speeds.
The wheel is stiffer which means it counter acts the bending effect other chair wheels have, caused by athlete’s characteristic “punching action” as they power down the track.
It is part of an ongoing tie-up between BAE and UK Sport. BAE is acting as official research and innovation partner on the ‘Road to Rio’ in a new £800k agreement
It is the second phase of a partnership which has already benefited more than 20 different Olympic and Paralympic sports and 140 athletes, ranging from cycling to skeleton – a fast winter sliding sport.
Shelly, from St Annes, said: “Having access to this kind of expertise gives us a huge boost and motivates me to train hard and continue to work on my racing technique every day, knowing that I have wonderful support around me.
“Being able to make use of the best in British engineering, thanks to this partnership between BAE Systems and UK Sport can help keep British athletes at the forefront of this fiercely competitive environment.”
Meanwhile staff at Warton were treated to a masterclass in taekwondo by Lutalo, who was visiting to talk about BAE producing a taekwondo training simulator. BAE has worked on the scoring vests that are used in competitions.
Lutalo got to try out the Typhoon simulator and toured the Typhoon assembly plant where he met BAE staff who are part of a local taekwondo club and gave a quick lesson.
BAE Systems engineer Michael Singleton, who runs local classes, said: “It was a wonderful experience meeting and training with Lutalo, he’s very approachable and had a genuine interest in the work we do within BAE Systems.
“We both commented that training in front of several Eurofighter Typhoons was quite possibly a once in a lifetime experience.”
Lutalo said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. I’ve got to fly the plane’s simulator which was an education to say the least and I’ve seen the factory.
“Using the simulator has really opened my eyes to the work they do here at BAE Systems, and I’m really excited to see what can be done for taekwondo.
“There’s been mention of producing a simulator device that could help us. It’s the little things that give us the edge at this top level, so I’m all for it.”
Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson said: “The difference between success and failure in sport can often come down to the smallest of margins.
“The cutting edge technology from BAE Systems contributed to British athletes’ incredible success in the run-up to and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“I am pleased that BAE Systems’ partnership with UK Sport will continue to support our best athletes.”
How BAE have helped
BAE helped design the mast for the Finn dinghy that Iain Perry sailed to gold in Sydney 2000.
It worked on the skeleton bob that Amy Williams rode to Winter Olympics gold at Vancouver in 2010.
BAE devised a laser tracking timing system designed and installed at the Manchester Velodrome for British Cycling to use in training.
The team also came up with a portable device which gave pentathletes confidence that their new laser-powered pistols were working properly.
The British four man bobsleigh team have been testing their set up positions in the Warton wind tunnel.
Kelvin Davies, BAE Systems project manager for the technology partnership, said: “Designing and engineering some of the world’s most complex products means that we are at the forefront of technological innovation.”
Written by by Tim Gavell, firstname.lastname@example.org