Williams praises sled technology
Amy Williams has singled out the cutting edge technology behind her with trusty sled 'Arthur' as a key contributing factor behind her Winter Olympic success.
Great Britain's sole gold medallist from Vancouver and first individual female from home shores to top the Winter Olympic podium for 58 years, Williams set new records on the Whistler track as she came down fastest on two out of the four runs to top the podium.
While teammates Kristan Bromley and Shelley Rudman use sleds designed by the former's company Bromley Technologies Ltd, Williams has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with BAE Systems, who usually work on complex projects involving everything from fighter jets to submarines.
And with over 200 hours of wind tunnel testing in the four years leading up to Vancouver, every precaution was taken to ensure Williams was in the optimum aerodynamic position to reach speeds of over 143km/h.
"It gives you such confidence going to a major competition knowing that your equipment is world class and your preparation methods are at the cutting edge of your sport," said Williams.
"All you need to worry about is delivering on the day.
"I'm really grateful to all the scientists and engineers at the University of Southampton and BAE Systems who helped make me and 'Arthur' such a successful team."
'Arthur' has not always been the personality he is now, starting life as a concept codenamed 'Blackroc' after his designers from the University of Southampton Rachel Blackburn and James Roche.
Initial prototypes of the sled brought success as they guided Williams and teammate Adam Pengilly to silver medals at the 2009 World Championships in the technology's first competitive outing.
And head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport Dr Scott Drawer believes this technological advantage helped to strike fear into Williams's competitors, especially after they saw the times the 27-year-old clocked in the training runs leading up to the event.
"Our job is to seek out that extra tiny drop of performance from Britain's best athletes as we aim to help them be among the best prepared, and most feared by their competitors, when they reach the start line," said Drawer.
"We couldn't do this without input from our partners in industry and academia who can apply their varied knowledge and expertise to the increasingly sophisticated world of high performance sport."