Tokyo track designer reveals boost from new surface as records fall at Olympics

The designer behind the lightning fast Olympic Stadium track in Tokyo has said it gives a 1-2% performance advantage to athletes, making it the quickest in history.

Super spikes, hot weather and the track have all been cited as contributing to a number of sensational times, with the Norwegian Karsten Warholm becoming the latest to leave jaws dropping by breaking the 400m hurdles world record as he became the first man to go under 46 seconds.

Andrea Vallauri, track designer for Mondo, said the new surface made a far greater difference than most realised. “Every time there is an Olympic Games we try to improve the formulation of the material and Tokyo has been no different,” he said. “The track is very thin, 14mm. But we have added a new element: these rubber granules.

“In the lower layer of the track is this hexagonal design that creates these small pockets of air. They not only provide shock absorption but give some energy return; at the same time a trampoline effect. We have improved this combination and this is why we are seeing the track has improved performance.

“In Rio the track was called WS. This new one is called WSTY, for Tokyo. It’s the latest evolution of the track.”

The track has been a huge talking point after the setting of Olympic, national records and personal bests, including Elaine Thompson-Herah breaking Florence Griffith Joyner’s Olympic 100m record with a staggering 10.61sec.

“It is completely within the rules but it is also what we were asked to provide; two components,” Vallauri said. “To protect the health of the athletes, to avoid trauma, but it should also give them a push. In lab testing we can see the improvement. It is difficult to say exactly but maybe a 1-2% advantage.

“It is all prefabricated so every lane is the same, and the run-ups for the long and triple jumps also. The production is the same as a Formula One tyre.”

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