OLYMPICS: German team departs for Athens - summer heat to be factor at games
10 August 2004, ATHENS/FRANKFURT - The German team on Tuesday officially departed for the Athens Olympics amid hopes to play a leading role in the medal table and with signs that intense summer heat will be factor at the games.
10 August 2004
ATHENS/FRANKFURT - The German team on Tuesday officially departed for the Athens Olympics amid hopes to play a leading role in the medal table and with signs that intense summer heat will be factor at the games.
"I hope that we will get more medals than in Sydney (2000) and place high up in the medal standings," interior ministry state secretary Ute Vogt told athletes and officials at Frankfurt airport.
Germany finished fifth in the overall medal table four years ago with 56 medals: 13 gold, 17 silver and 26 bronze.
Tuesday's group featured 60 athletes and 45 officials, which was only a small portion of the German team which features a total 451 athletes.
Many have already arrived on Athens or will travel to Greece in the remaining days before Friday's opening ceremony.
Included was tennis player Nicolas Kiefer, who departed on Tuesday despite a painful ear infection.
"The Olympics are a highlight in my career. I am looking forward to meeting other athletes in the athletes' village. I dream of a medal," said Kiefer.
Looking at the huge security operation, he added: "I am not afraid of terrorism. I believe that we are guarded very well."
Already, however, teams competing in the Olympics have been preparing for another issue at the games - high summer temperatures in Athens.
Australia's womens hockey team have lifted weights in heat chambers over the past month and the British equestrian team have worn thick jackets during training in an effort to get used to the expected temperature conditions in Athens.
The American volleyball team, meanwhile, chose to train on the beaches of Europes southernmost island of Crete.
As athletes from a record 202 countries get ready to compete in the Olympics starting on Wednesday with the first football matches, one of the main challenges for them will be keeping cool in Athens where hot and humid temperatures are predicted for August.
The intense heat is one of the main reasons why the majority of Athenians evacuate the capital and head to the Greek islands in large numbers.
With temperatures often reaching 40 degrees celsius plus, it is not exactly easy for someone to stay cool standing still in those temperatures, let alone running a marathon.
Before races, it is reported that British long-distance runner Paula Radcliffe will take ice baths to lower her body temperature.
Other athletes will combat the heat by dunking their hands in iced water just before competition.
Many athletes, however, are opting to forego the traditional methods of combating heat with the latest in technology offered by the worlds leading brands in order to give competitors that crucial edge.
After studying firemens gear, researchers at Sportswear giant Nike built a vest to cool the body from the outside by transferring the cold temperature to the skin to slow the bodys rise in temperature.
The first design, an upper body ice pack that resembled a picnic cooler was scrapped to make room for a lightweight and mobile vest.
According to designer Scott Williams, the vest allows the athlete a chance to cool the body before a long-distance activity.
After donning the ice vest for 30 minutes before competing, tests have found that the rise of an athletes core body temperature slows by 19 per cent, allowing for a higher level of performance.
The doctor for Germanys womens football team, Bernd Lasarzewski said players will be wearing a cooling vest during warm-up and half-time in order to help the temperature of the body drop.
"We think that this will have an effect," said Lasarzewski.
The Dutch rowing team are putting their hopes on a new uniform developed by the Dutch Institute of Applied Research which disperses body heat by allowing sweat to evaporate more efficiently, and also reflect the suns rays.
The uniform will cover more of the rowers body than normal suits and the reports say it can improve performance by up to 3 per cent.
Sportswear manufacturer Adidas has also come up with its own version of the "ice wear" with the ClimaCool range.
ClimaCool is made from four fabrics designed for different parts of the body depending on how much sweat or heat is produced there.
Many teams have tried to reduce the shock of Athens heat by training in similar conditions at home.
Herman Frazer, the head of the American team, said nearly half of his athletes checked in early at the Athletes Village in Athens, only to depart immediately to training elsewhere around the country before the start of the Games.
"We want to get the athletes climatised and so a lot of the teams have left for the southern Mediterranean island of Crete to train," he said.
Subject: German news