When it comes to Great Britain’s gold medal chances at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Victoria Pendleton is a name that springs straight to mind. At the peak of her career, she’s cycling’s golden girl. Winning gold at the Beijing Olympics and coming off the back of great successes at the World Championships, her rivalry with fellow cycling sprinter Anna Meares of Australia promises to deliver some of the most nail-biting action of the games.
Looking for every advantage they can get out on the velodrome, Pendleton and the rest of the Team GB cycling team (including Chris Hoy, Laura Trott and Geraint Thomas) will be using a unique training aid – Adidas “Adipower” trousers.
Dubbed the “Hotpants”, the custom-fitted trousers are battery powered and are designed to be worn after an athlete’s warm-up. Heated filaments in the trousers direct heat to the core muscle groups in the legs, maintaining an ideal 38C temperature, meaning that Team GB’s legs should be limber before each event even if they’ve had a lengthy wait between their warm up session and the competitive races. There are even quick-release zips, letting the athletes get the Adipower kit on and off in seconds.
“We’ve had them for a couple of months now,” Pendleton explained to Tech Digest.
“They’re really easy to use and heat up almost instantaneously; you can really feel the temperature going up on your quads and hamstrings. For me as a sprinter, I have lots and lots of short events that are spread out over a day so it’s essential my muscles maintain their temperature after warm up.
“In cycling we talk about ‘marginal gains’ all the time; we’re training to the best of our abilities and have so many experts working with us. You want to make sure every detail is taken care of, and that we have every advantage possible. These trousers are another example of how Team GB is achieving that.”
Designed over the course of four years with input from Team GB and other top cyclists from across the globe, Adidas’s innovation spokesperson Udo Mueller stated that the Adipower trousers were exploring an area where few other sportswear manufacturers were venturing:
“There is a clear lack of garments being made where we do nothing illegal to push athletes to do their best. There’s a marginal gain to be made by using these ‘hotpants’ and we have to capitalise upon it. We did the same within the new swimming regulations and created a swimsuit lighter and faster than ever before. These new innovations should encourage and inspire other countries in the long haul to take advantage of that.”
And what of Pendleton’s chances against Meares? Will the “hotpants” give her the edge she needs to grab the gold?
“Anna and I are both competitive, determined, tenacious individuals. People who know us say we’re quite similar in character, and I’d expect that from someone of the same sport as me.
“I have huge respect for Anna Meares and I know she has a lot for me too. We’re just both hugely competitive individuals, and our form has converged at the same time.
“When it’s all over we’ll probably have a sit down and have a good laugh over all the hoohah we’ve read in press about each other over the last ten years!”
But the time for friendship comes later. For the rest of these games at least, we hope Pendleton remains fired up by the rivalry that could lead to one of Great Britain’s key gold medal wins.