The Olympic Games are a mega sporting event par excellence and as such a unique occasion on which athletes and spectators from around the globe gather to push the boundaries of human performance and witness spectacle of the highest order. Defined by sweat-streaked glitter and outpourings of emotions, the drama that unfolds within just over two weeks is of such magnitude and power that the world’s attention seems solely focused on the athletes and the city hosting the event.
With the Rio Olympics having come to a close, it is fitting to consider the role of stainless steel in the sporting environment. Synthetic fibres, polymers, composites, ceramics as well as natural materials such as cotton and wood immediately spring to mind when thinking of sports equipment – a broad term embracing a large variety of implements, clothing and accessories of all shapes and sizes. A number of metals are also a commonplace in sports equipment, ranging from lightweight aluminium and titanium to carbon and stainless steels. The use of a specific material depends on various factors concerning the purpose of the application and the environment in which it is intended to be used. Among them are strength, density, fatigue resistance, toughness, durability, maintenance, cost, but also corrosion resistance and aesthetics.
Not surprisingly, the majority of sports equipment employing stainless steel is used in outside sports where exposure to corrosive (primarily saline) environments and the need for strength and toughness are often greater than indoors. Just think of sailing, rowing, cycling, horseback riding (equestrianism), golf as well as non-Olympic sports and various leisure activities such as water skiing, scuba diving, climbing, hiking, caving and fishing, to mention but a few. All these sports and activities require equipment which can withstand the forces and environments to which it gets exposed and stainless steel can provide that, with beauty coming as a bonus.
To learn more about this topic, including the use of stainless steel in indoor, winter and ‘exotic’ sports, read the article "Stainless Steel in Sports Equipment" by John Rowe, Secretary-General of the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF), published in the September issue of Stainless Steel World News.
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