The London 2012 Paralympics begin tonight and over the coming days we'll be featuring a selection of cutting-edge sportswear designed for the competing athletes, starting with the Nike Spike Pad as worn by "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius.
South African double-amputee sprinter Pistorius previously used regular track spikes and had to glue or tape the plates onto his blades in a process that took a couple of hours before each race and meant they were never quite the same twice.
The Nike Spike Pad is designed to adhere directly to the Össur Flex-Foot Cheetah blades he wears, using just contact cement to reduce weight while maintaining strength and stability. It also takes only 30 minutes to attach both of them now.
Nike innovation director Tobie Hatfield developed the design over the course of several months by reviewing high-speed video of Oscar running on a treadmill to identify the impact point of his blades during each stride and get the spike receptacles in exactly the right positions for traction and consistent performance.
The spike plate is made of carbon fibre with a thermoplastic polyurethane coating, while the midsole pad comprises two pieces of foam with two different densities: softer at the back to cushion landing and harder at the front for take-off.
Pistorius has been using the Nike Spike Pad since February and is pictured here in tests at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
The Nike Spike Pad is also worn by Pistorius' American rival Jerome Singleton and the two will go head-to-head in the T44 100 metres next week.