With sports like weightlifting, fencing and certain track-and-field events, the use of steel is clear to see, demonstrating its strength and reason for being the go-to metal. Steel, however, is the very backbone of many other sports, with its presence much less obvious to spectators. Steel helps racing yachts slash and glide through oceans, propel gymnasts high into the air and enable horses and their riders to compete with fierce elegance.
Steel Keeps Sailors Edging Forward
Since the dawn of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, sailors have been testing their skills in the Games’ largest playing field. Within the sport of sailing, there are eight different classes of events determined by the shape and size of the yacht.
Each class of yacht has its own rules and regulations that include the types of material that can be used in the construction of the boat. But there is one material that is present in all eight classes – stainless steel.
Most of the yacht classes’ rigging, which includes the masts, yards, sails and cordage, require the same material to be used – stainless steel wire rope. With the force that the sea wind puts on the sails, it is important for the speed of the yacht and for the safety of the sailors that the ropes be as strong as possible, making stainless steel the perfect rigging choice.
The 470 class, a yacht with two crew members measuring 4.7 meters in length, requires that the rudder stock and tiller be made of stainless steel. The rudder stock and tiller are used to steer the yachts aggressively through the course, incurring significant pressure from the weight of the manned craft, the current of the sea and the force of the wind. It is imperative that these components be made of the lightest and strongest material available – stainless steel.
Shoes Built for a Full Gallop
The Olympic sport of equestrian is as unique as it is majestic. Riders and horses perform together in three event categories, and have developed the ability to feel each other’s emotions over countless hours of training.
Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against each other on a level playing field while competing in three disciplines, eventing, jumping and dressage.
Both the horses and riders are tested for strength, endurance and skill, and like any other athlete, horses require special shoes in order to compete. Equestrian horseshoes must be reliable, safe and durable – making steel the perfect material.
Steel horseshoes act as a traction device for the horses on varying terrain, and allow them to cup more earth while galloping. Horseshoes enable the horses to hold their footing, prevent any slippage and improve their overall performance during competition.
As Olympic equestrian events are incredibly competitive in nature, the horseshoes are typically worn for longer periods of time. Because of the duration that a horse wears the shoes, steel is the preferred choice as it stronger and staves off the possibility of infections occurring.
Steel horseshoes have also been thought of as a symbol of good luck when hung with the ends pointing up. Although Olympic equestrian riders rely on their long-perfected skill and talent to perform, having a little extra help attached to the bottom of their horse’s hooves might prove useful.
A Metal Trusted by Gymnasts
Steel’s strength and versatility make it the top choice for international gymnastics competition equipment. Gymnasts are constantly risking injury by performing exciting aerial stunts on bars, beams and vaults. The equipment they use must be flexible and able to withstand the force that is exerted during each routine and exercise.
The uneven bars is a spectacular event that showcases the athletes’ strength, awareness and skill by swinging and flipping between bars set at different heights. Although the bar itself is made from a flexible composite material, the frame is made from stainless steel.
The spring balance beam’s structure is also made from steel. Not only are the legs and frame made from the ultra-strong metal, so is the spring that launches the athletes in the air as they perform feats of true balance and discipline.
The steel structures in gymnastics allow the gymnasts to put their years of training and practice to use when trying to achieve the ultimate dream – winning a gold medal.
The Most Important Olympic Metal
From magnificent Olympic venues, to sabers, shot puts and yachts, steel is used almost everywhere in the Olympic Games.
There is a reason that steel is the first choice when it comes to construction and equipment – it’s lightweight, corrosion-resistant and strong enough to withstand the abuse given by world-class athletes. With the predominant use of steel in the Games, it can be considered the most important metal in the Olympics. Although it is not necessary fought over like the other top three, it is the catalyst from which dreams and everlasting memories are created.