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The University of Southampton


Wolfson Unit and wind tunnel engineers with support from academics have been contributing to British success in a number of high-performance sports and have had a close working relationship with UK Sport since 2005. In 2007 the Wolfson Unit was awarded the status of Innovation Partner, which continues today.

Cyclist on a bike in the RJ Mitchell Tunnel
Testing in the RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel

The involvement has concentrated on sports involving high speed, where there are potential gains in the aerodynamic and hydrodynamic characteristics of the athletes and their equipment. We are immensely proud to be recognised by UK Sport as providing services that meet the world-class standards of excellence in performance science and innovation required to make an impact on the UK’s best athletes and coaches.

Initially, much of this work concentrated on cycling, where the results have been dramatic. Prior to the Beijing Olympics, members of the British team worked closely with engineers from the University, using its facilities and the expertise of its engineers to test their bikes and improve their aerodynamics. British cycling has greatly improved its world standing in track cycling and is now considered the dominant force in the sport.

At the Athens Olympics cycling events in 2004, Great Britain came third in the medal table. Over the next five years, the team came top of the medals tally for three out of six UCI Track Cycling World Championships, and in 2008 they led the Beijing Olympic cycling medals table by an impressive margin, notably with Sir Chris Hoy’s three gold medals.

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