ALBA: Italian firm Mondo will supply this summer’s Paris Olympics with a custom purple track which could be the fastest yet for athletes hunting the biggest prizes in sport.

Based in the sleepy Piedmont town of Alba which is immersed in vineyards where the grapes for the world-famous Barolo wine ripen in the sun, Mondo first made the track for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

For Paris — its 13th Olympics — it has devised the Mondotrack EB that will host 46 of 48 athletics events of the Games at the Stade de France.

The biggest stars in athletics such as reigning women’s world 100m champion Sha’Carri Rich­ardson will strive for Olympic glory on its surface.

Mondo claim the track delivers better performance than the one used at the Covid-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, whe­re three world records were broken, including the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles marks set by Karsten Warholm and Sydney McLaughlin-Levr­one respectively.

“We have changed the design of the cells on the lower layer of the track compared to the one used in Tokyo,” Maurizio Stroppiana, vice-president of Mondo’s sports division, told AFP.

“That reduces the energy loss for athletes and sends it back up to them at the best possible point of their movement.”

However research and development manager Andrea Marenghi says that Mondo cannot “do whatever we want” with the composition of the track.

“There are very strict criteria set by the IOC because the most important thing is to safeguard the health of the athlete and not impair their technique,” says Marenghi.

“Athletes are more high-performance than ever, and the track doesn’t give anything that they don’t already have.”

The Paris track will be a striking purple rather than the traditional terracotta.

Marenghi told AFP that the two new shades — one for the competition areas and another for the technical areas — will only be used for the Games in Paris.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2024

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