Track specially designed for Brazilian conditions will provide stunning stage as world's best athletes compete at Olympic and Paralympic Games
The running track of the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is ready for action. Installation was completed on Monday (9 May) and the city's mayor, Eduardo Paes, officially unveiled the track on Thursday. The renovated venue will welcome its first elite athletes on Saturday for the Rio 2016 athletics test event, a three-day international competition. The most striking aspect of the new track is its colour, a deep royal blue that will provide a dramatic backdrop to the athletics events of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is here that Jamaica's Usain Bolt will attempt to defend the 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles he won at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games – in what would be an unprecedented ‘triple-triple’. Agberto Guimarães, Rio 2016's executive director of sports and a former middle-distance runner who competed at three Olympic Games, said he was very pleased with the track, its colour and the lane markings, which use the official Rio 2016 typeface. "Athletics forms the foundations of the Olympic movement," Guimarães said. "Anyone who comes to the Olympic Stadium for the test event will get a good idea of how the athletics events will look during Rio 2016." Capacity at the Olympic Stadium has been increased from 45,000 to 60,000
The new synthetic track has been specifically designed with Rio's hot and humid conditions in mind. Andrea Vallauri, head of the sport division at Mondo, the Italian company that designed and installed the track, told insidethegames.biz that the company used nano-technology to make molecular modifications to the formula of the track. Mondo has laid tracks for a series of top-tier competitions, including the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Beijing 2015 athletics world championship. “We got so many comments back from athletes saying Beijing 2015 was one of the best tracks they had ever performed on,” Vallauri said. “For Rio we have improved a little bit again from Beijing... Rio is the ending of a natural evolution beginning in London.” Guimarães, who represented Brazil at Moscow 1980 (where he finished fourth in the 800m), Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, said the new track has been built to sustain intense use by top level athletes. The Brazilian remembered that at the Paris 2003 world athletics championships, when the track was damaged by a wayward hammer throw just before the 10,000m event, organisers were able to replace the missing piece almost immediately. "If a piece of the track is damaged, we will be able to put another piece in its place," he explains.
Test event From Saturday to Monday, the Olympic Stadium – which was built for the 2007 Pan American Games – will be the venue for the traditional Ibero-American Athletics Championships, which will serve as a test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Athletes from the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world and beyond will compete in the championship. The capacity of the Olympic Stadium has been increased to 60,000 from 45,000, following the installation of temporary seating at both ends, behind where the goals are positioned when the stadium is in football mode. Other parts of the venue have also been renovated; the elevators and bathrooms have been modernised and new electricity, sound and lighting systems have been installed. Before the Games, a giant electronic screen will be mounted. Measuring 30m x 9m, it will use LEDs to display results and replay key moments for the crowd. The Olympic Stadium will also host eight women's and men's football matches in the group stages of the Rio 2016 tournaments. For each session of the Ibero-American Athletics Championships this weekend, 3,500 free tickets will be distributed. The competition will test organisers' ability to manage large crowds safely and efficiently while at the same time running a major sporting event. As well as debuting the warm-up track and the main competition track, the event will put officials, judges and volunteers at the venue through their paces. A test event for Paralympic athletics will then be held at the Olympic Stadium next week (18-21 May). As part of the modernisation of the venue, accessibility has been improved for people with impairments.