Nikes, sharks and wind-tunnels - is the latest sports technology giving some an unfair advantage?

Last updated at 11:02
A person takes a photo of the Nike Vaporfly Elite TrainersGetty Images
Nike launched the Vaporfly Elite trainers last year

A new pair of running trainers may look good and feel comfy, but could they actually make you run faster?

That was the claim from Nike when they released their Vaporfly Elite trainers last year. These special shoes have a carbon-fibre plate in their soles.

New research from The New York Times has now backed up the claim that wearing these shoes can make people run up to 4% faster than similar runners in different shoes.

It's not the first time that special equipment has helped athletes to perform better, but is it fair and should it be banned?

Swimmers jump into the poolGetty Images
Hi-tech swimsuits were banned in 2009 after many world records were broken
Speedy swimsuits

A good technique and lots of training can increase speed for swimmers in the pool, but hi-tech swimsuits were also helping competitors to beat their best times.

The full-length body swimsuits were banned in 2009 due to the high number of world records being broken by swimmers wearing them.

The suits were designed to help competitors to glide through the water and were made from several different materials to stop friction slowing swimmers down.

When the swimsuits were being designed, experts from the Natural History Museum studied sharks to see how they glide through the water!

Cyclists in aerodynamic positionsGetty Images
Professional cyclists use special equipment to reduce wind resistance
Science in the saddle

Professional cyclists have one common enemy: wind resistance.

Aerodynamics are a huge part of the sport, with competitors looking for ways to be as streamlined as possible.

Riders who race in time trials use special equipment to help them beat the clock.

The back wheel of their bikes are solid and the handlebars point forward, rather than sideways, to create as little wind resistance as possible.

Riders also wear tear drop-shaped helmets with long tails at the back.

Wind tunnels are now also a major part of the sport. Coaches work with the riders in a wind tunnel to find the most streamlined body position. They aim to tuck their limbs in and make their body as small as possible.

A golfer takes his tee shotGetty Images
A new golf ball containing graphene has been used by professionals
Graphene golf balls

The recent use of golf balls containing graphene has caused a debate in the sport.

It has been claimed that the special balls are travelling further.

Graphene is about 100 times stronger than steel but also stretchable like rubber. According to the University of Manchester, where graphene was discovered, the material is "ultra-light, yet immensely tough".

It's mixed in with the outer layer of the ball, and as it is so strong, the outer layer can be made thinner. This allows for the inner core of the ball to be larger, which increases the balls speed allowing it to travel further.

Lizzy Yarnold competing in PyeongchangGetty Images
Lizzy Yarnold won gold for Team GB in Pyeongchang
Supersonic sliders

It's not just swimmers that have used special suits to boost their speed.

At the recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Great Britain's competitors in the skeleton wore special suits designed to reduce wind resistance.

The suits are specially made for each athlete using a 3D laser-scanner to ensure they fit perfectly. They contain drag-resistant ridges designed to reduce the amount of wind resistance acting on the body.

Team GB won three medals in the sport at Pyeongchang, with the ruling body of the sport saying that the suits were legal for competition.


  • View all (4)
  • Comment number 4. Posted by Wildcat

    29 Jul 2018 15:15
    It’s only fair if everyone has access to it and the opportunity to use it.
  • Comment number 3. Posted by princesscupcake

    28 Jul 2018 12:03
    I personal think it’s fair because what if everybody uses them
  • Comment number 2. Posted by purplesparklytrampoline

    27 Jul 2018 15:49
    hubbabubba its tottaly fair
    ps is your name habibah?
  • Comment number 1. Posted by hubbabubba

    27 Jul 2018 12:08
    It is unfair