September 08, 2012
LONDON — The spotlight at the Paralympic Games in London has not been on the athletes alone but also on the remarkable technology that helps them compete.In London, engineers, volunteering for a charity called Remap, are developing Olympic technology right in their own backyard.
In the garage of his home just outside London, David Sheffield is working on the prototype for a wheelchair suitable for Paralympic athletes.Working with him is former engineer Doug Watt.
They are among some 1,000 people who volunteer for the charity Remap, designing technology that helps disabled people.They do it in their own garages, for free, and usually using their own materials.
The wheelchair they are working on now is designed to fit shot put thrower Shaun Sewell.It is also adjustable and will be used as a template for future athletes, as David Sheffield explains.
"We were asked to make a chair that was totally adjustable in every way so that we can use it not just for Shaun but also for other athletes.And then we can find the exact positions for the way they sit, the way they hold the pole, the way they lean back and so on.And then once that is all set up we will then make them a chair just for them with those dimensions and those features," said Sheffield.
Now in his 30s, Sewell has been using a wheelchair since he lost the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident 13 years ago.
He almost made it to the 2008 Beijing Paralympics but his plans were disrupted when he contracted life-threatening septicemia. He says the past years have been a challenge.
"The journey that I have had as a competitive athlete has not been easy at all," he said."Trying to find a coach, trying to find a gym that can help you in the way that you need help, because there are certain things that I am unable to actually do by myself.If you want to get into throwing as a disabled thrower, you find a welder's yard.And you and that welder come up with an idea for a frame, and it's quite bog standard."
That is a world away from the new wheelchair Sheffield and Watt are designing for him.They have carefully taken all his measurements so the chair is the right fit for his body.They have also spent time watching him throw, so they know how his body moves and where extra support is most needed.
Sewell says he is intent on making the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro four years from now.The new chair, he says, will help him get there.
"I believe it's going to make a huge difference," he said. "I'm throwing really well with the frame I've got now which is not right for me, so having something that is right will only improve my distance."
Peter Parry, chairman of trustees at Remap, says its volunteers have built devices for three athletes competing in this year's Paralympics.
He says it is not like the other work the volunteers do - not least because there's a large book of rules about what technology is allowed.
"We can help them support themselves," he said."We can provide them with the pole - as you saw - to help them balance their body.But what we cannot do is have things like springs or hydraulics, which would give them an unfair advantage.Because then it becomes a battle of who can make the best device rather than who can be the best athlete."
Parry says with technology there can be the temptation to cheat - as with performance-enhancing drugs.But luckily, he says, with wheelchairs, spotting any unfair advantage is easy.
"It is relatively easy to check," he said. "For instance, the pole that Shaun holds has got to be rigid.It's not allowed to bend and give him any spring.Similarly, the back of his seat has got to be rigid.These are fairly objective tests, which you can put on.Really where the problem is likely to come is in things like the running blades, where the amount of force on those is enormous and the use of composite laminates is both expensive and give the advantage by using different materials for a different person."
And, he adds, with technology advancing it could become a more difficult terrain to monitor.
remarkable (a) 值得注意的;非凡的
prototype (n) 原型;標準
shot put (n) 鉛球,擲鉛球比賽
adjustable (a) 可調整的
template (n) 模板,型板
dimension (n) 特點
倫敦帕運 (Paralympics) 順利落幕。會場中引人注目的焦點 (spotlight) 不只在運動選手(athlete) 本身，協助他們比賽的科技也一樣引人注目。工程師 David Sheffield 在自家車庫裡研發適合帕運比賽的輪椅原型 (prototype)，目前他正著手一台適合鉛球項目 (shot put) 選手 Shaun Sewell 的輪椅。這輪椅是可調整式的 (adjustable)，所以也能當作以後其他運動員使用的模版 (template)。
contract (v) 感染（如疾病）
septicemia (n) 敗血病
bog standard (phr) 普通(的),中等(的)
measurement (n) 尺寸,大小,長度
take one’s measurements (phr) 幫…量身，測量尺寸
intent (a) 專心致志的;堅決要做的
常用的結構是 be intent on N/V-ing。文中提到的運動員Sewell，他志在能參加四年後里約舉辦的帕運(he is intent on making the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro four years from now)，make在原英文句裡是指「達成、做到」的意思。
trustee (n) 理事會理事,董事
hydraulic (a) 水壓的,液壓的
temptation (n) 引誘,誘惑
Peter Parry是Reamp的理事會會長(chairman of trustees)。他認為Reamp的義工有別於其它義工，主要原因 (not least because . . . ) 是他們有厚厚的一本規則手冊 (a large book of rules) ，必須遵守被奧會許可的科技。他們能提供運動員協助身體平衡的輔助，但卻不能用彈簧或是液壓裝置(springs or hydraulics)，因為這會給與運動員不公平的優勢(an unfair advantage)。
rigid (a) 堅硬的;堅固的
terrain (n) (知識等的)領域；地域
monitor (v) 監控
Peter Parry認為，科技如同強化運動表現的禁藥 (performance-enhancing drugs)，是引人作弊的誘惑 (temptation)。但不同的是，有很多客觀的測試 (objective tests) 可以施行，所以在輪椅上動手腳是相對容易被察覺的 (relatively easy to check)。但隨著科技進展，這也將會變成一個更難被監測的地帶 (a more difficult terrain to monitor)。
Check your vocabulary!
Fill in the blanks with a one from the list above with necessary changes. After you finish, select the text below to reveal the hidden answers.
1. I couldn't resist the temptation to open the letter.
2. Scientists have developed a working prototype for a voice translation machine.
3. Each student's progress is closely monitored.
4. I was so intent on my work that I didn't notice the time.
5. The height of the bicycle seat is adjustable.
6. They walked for miles across steep and inhospitable terrain.