One of the most memorable sights greeting visitors as they fly into London for the Olympic Games is the pink and blue synthetic hockey pitch at Olympic Park.
Dr Martin Schlegel, Managing Director of Advanced Polymer Technology Australasia, the Melbourne based manufacturer, said: “When you fly over London city approaching Heathrow, the hockey venue is the only open structure in terms of the major stadiums. People can see our pitch in the striking colours and I think it can become an Olympic icon amongst all of the other structures within Olympic Park.”
He said the new polymer pitch has set a new benchmark for the future of the sport by combining vibrant new colour schemes, environmentally responsible technology and exacting playability characteristics that are demanded by elite hockey athletes.
“London was a development that was built on the product we supplied to Beijing. We reduced the water consumption for field hockey by 40%” said Dr Schlegel. In addition the surface system already incorporates a large percentage of recycled components and as a result both initiatives greatly support the London 2012 sustainability policies. “Obviously we introduced new, vibrant colour schemes that will enable hockey to be presented in a much different light from a commercial TV broadcasting as well as a sponsorship or merchandising capability,” added Dr Schlegel.
Its legacy will last long after the Games are finished. “I think for the sport of hockey itself, the legacy will be having introduced a blue playing surface, and we can see that now at home in Australia where clubs are choosing blue playing surfaces. But previous Olympic Games had the problem that they built white elephants, stadiums that haven’t been used since. And so London has come up with the idea to actually recycle parts of the stadiums and make them available to schools. To take a part of the Olympic turf and put it into a playground at a school is, I think, going to be a great legacy.”
Dr Schlegel said it was an important lesson for the hosts of future Games. “If I think about future Olympic events, and in particular in Brazil, we are at the development stage now of the next round of sustainable products that can be even completely recycled after its useful life. That’s one opportunity, the other thing that we’re working on is introducing more and more rapidly renewable resources into our products. Brazil, with a large agricultural background, is a platform where we could potentially derive raw materials from natural resources.”
He also saw benefits for Qatar in the Middle East. “I think that we as Australians, just having gone through a drought for so many years, can relate to the problems that Qatar has with regards to scarce resources. So things like using artificial surfaces instead of natural surfaces and not having to water it could be a great in terms of football or soccer in a stadium indoors to shelter people from the heat.
“Thinking about Russia and the Republic of Korea, I believe that there is a market for our surfaces because of the newly introduced stadium designs that we see now in the world. Stadium roofs are movable and enclosing the playing surface. Spectator seating is further up and covering the natural surfaces. So sunlight and natural rainfall doesn’t reach the surface any longer and therefore grass can’t grow, so I believe there will be an opportunity to supply our surfaces in major stadiums as well,” said Dr Schlegel.
The expertise of Australian firms such as Advanced Polymer Technology Australasia will be showcased to global decision makers at a special event in London during the Games, during which a free app detailing the ‘who’s who’ of the Australian major sporting event industry, Track Record will be launched. The event will be held under the banner of Australia Unlimited, the nation brand which highlights Australia’s creativity, innovation and sophistication.
A special edition of the Australia Unlimited iPad magazine app celebrating Australian contribution to the London Olympics will be published on the day of the Opening Ceremony. It will feature stories of major Australian sporting event specialists such as Populous who have designed the London Olympic Stadium and Di Henry who is managing the London 2012 celebrations for the Greater London Authority among others.
The Australia Unlimited iPad app is a free monthly magazine available for download from the App store. It tells the story of contemporary Australia through the achievements of its people at home and abroad. For more information on Australian contribution to the London Olympics, download the app or visit www.australiaunlimited.com.
Media contact: Samantha Mattila
Tel: +61 2 9390 2388
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For further news and information from the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) visit www.austrade.gov.au//mediacentre
* transcript of full interview here