Have you ever thought of where the athletics tracks come from in the Olympic Games? The surface is all-important and has to be consistent and provide an environment where athlete’s can perform at their best without the fear of injury. Throughout the years varying technologies have allowed the games to experiment with different surfaces and there is one company which has been at the forefront of these advances and it’s Italian.
The company is called ‘Mondo’, inspired by the company’s founder Edmondo Giovanni Stroppiana who started up in 1948 in Gallo d'Alba, a small village in the province of Cuneo. Initially the company’s main offering was Tenax, an adhesive used for repairng bicycle puncture. But the empire grew threw the manufacture of floor mats for cars, and especially in the manufacture of balls for a widely practiced sport in Southern Piedmont: ’pallone elastico’ or ‘palla-pugna’, and eventually synthetic surfaces for playing on. Today the company employs over 1500 people in over 30 production units spread over USA, China and Europe in over 196 countries worldwide.
Mondo has been the official supplier of the Olympic Games for the last 35 years, or 10 Olympic Games. It’s on Mondo’s tracks that Carl Lewis equalled Jesse Owens’ records and Michael Johnson amazed in Atlanta. In Beijing Mondo supplied the athletics tracks, basketball and handball courts on which 5 new world records were set.
The London Olympics have decided on a ’zero waste’ policy, insisting on the maximum of ‘Reduce. Reuse and Recycle’ for this reason the company is renting much of the surfacing to the Olympics with plans to reassign the surfacing after the Games. Although the track on which the 100m is run is likely to ramain in situ as the Olympic Stadium with reduce capacity after the games but must always remain an athletics enabled stadium as part of the Games’ legacy.
As we’ve seen lately the English Summer has a life of it’s own and nobody told it that the world would be watching in July and August. They’ve had some of the wettest months in years and so far the British Summer has been a washout. The surfaces, however, have been tailored to factor in the much higher humidity and surface moisture, with as always, athlete safety paramount.
They don’t just do the tracks but the seats, video screens, starting blocks and hurdles, fall zones and crossbars for the high jump and pole vault, rings and caged platforms for the throwing disciplines, as well as podiums on which the winners are awarded. You could say that the ‘Make the Olympics’, therefore the Olympics are ‘Made in Italy’.