The IAAF World Championships in Daegu last month (read more about it here and here) has left us with some thrilling wins, breath-taking speeds and unbelievable records; and adidas athletes shined through. After meticulous innovation, product development and testing helped adidas athletes bring home 33 medals over the eventful seven days. Read on to learn more about how we collaborate with athletes in order to help them to achieve peak performance.
Help athletes to improve their performance
“Product testing is much more than athletes simply trying out our products and us making changes to them; it is about educating them on new technologies and helping them understand how technology can improve their performance. Psychological encouragement and building trusting relationships play a major role in the whole development process,” says Kevin Kealey, Footwear Development, adidas Sports Performance.
The success of New Zealand shot-put athlete Valerie Adams (image above) epitomises the importance of product testing in high performance sport. “Valerie worked with us closely from the very beginning to get the perfect shoes. In shot-put, an athlete constantly hits the rubber toe tip (front portion of the shoe) against the stopboard. This used to cause Valerie to change her shoes twice a month. We closely monitored her action and worked out how we could engineer the shoe to improve the durability of the forefoot and also improve the speed of her movement within the ring. She can now easily use a single pair for three months!” says Kevin.
Alongside Valerie’s success in the Women’s shot-put, adidas athlete David Storl won the Men’s event too, capping off a great result for the Development Team.
The importance of listening
Extensive feedback collection is vital to developing high performance products. “It is important to listen to athletes and work closely with them to understand their strengths and give them the best they deserve,” explains Kevin. “David Rudisha is another athlete who has been vital in helping us make constant improvements to ensure that his winning streak continues. David Rudisha crossed the finish line in 1min 43.91sec to claim the gold medal that had evaded him in the 800 m event at the 2009 Berlin World Championships.”
The journey never ends for product development! “The 2011 IAAF Daegu World Championships was one of the final testing rounds before the London Olympics. Some of our gold medal hopefuls had to be content with silver or bronze. However we hope that with a few tweaks, we can help our athletes step up their performances and get them closer to the coveted gold,” adds Andreas.
The success at the World Championships is a result of cross-functional collaboration across product development, sports marketing, athlete services, product management, product design, product testing, quality, the adidas innovation teams as well as the teams in the LO and factories.