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The science behind wheeled sports
The science behind wheeled sports

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1.2 Wheelchair sports at the Paralympic Games

The two sports at the Paralympic Games that have most similarities with cycling in the Summer Olympics are, rather obviously, cycling, and wheelchair racing.

Athletes at the Paralympics compete in a variety of cycling events, some of which are exactly the same as those discussed in the previous section and some, like the tandem event for visually impaired cyclists shown in Figure 4a, are particular to the Paralympics.

Wheelchair sports, especially wheelchair racing (Figure 4b), share many similarities with cycling. The concepts of force, speed, acceleration and centre-of-mass are all important in understanding what happens in wheelchair racing, and similar technology is involved in both sports. The science that we introduce in this course - aerodynamics, properties of materials and carbon-fibre construction - are just as relevant to wheelchair racing as to cycling.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to Getty Images (Figure 4a and Figure 4b).
Figure 4 (a) Two US cyclists competing in a tandem track event for visually impaired athletes, in which the front rider is sighted and the rear rider is visually impaired. (b) A wheelchair athlete competing in a track race.