The race for perfection definitely has no finish line

So the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics is going on now. American swimmer Michael Phelps is once again making headlines. God bless that man. Fiji also won its first-ever gold medal, so congratulations to them. There are so many storylines going on in the Olympics that it’s hard to keep up. So I’m ditching it all entirely to focus on what this whole story is all about. This is about something that’s been going on for quite a while now, but not a lot of people, at least those who watch the spectacle of the Olympics as fans, are even aware of. This is about how some of today’s most finely-conditioned athletes have found unlikely partners to help them prepare for the Olympics. This is about the Olympians and the world’s automakers and the growing partnership between the two sides to create the perfect Olympic athlete.

On the surface, it sounds a little too Terminator-ish, right? It might even sound like somebody’s idea of a B-rated sci-fi movie. But all joking aside, this is all real. Automakers have, for quite some time now, in fact, helped train Olympic athletes using whatever technology is available to find the right kind of edge that can propel athletes to the top step of the medal podium.

Take BMW for instance. We reported the other day that the German automaker is helping the U.S. swimming team improve their techniques that they can utilize in the Olympics.

Judging by how the team has done in Rio so far – all together, it has won 34 total medals, including 21 gold medals – it’s easy to surmise that the assistance the U.S. swimming team has received from BMW has helped the team in a lot of respects.

Here’s the interesting part. The U.S. swimming team’s partnership with BMW isn’t the only athlete-automaker collaboration that will be put to the test in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Other automakers have been doing it too and for this Olympics, a certain Czech brand is helping its own cyclist prepare for his event.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

It’s not exactly in the same level of exposure as the BMW-U.S. swimming team alliance, but there is also a partnership existing between Czech cyclist Pavel Kelemen and Skoda. The 25-year old cyclist is all set to compete in the men’s cycling sprint event and when he does, you can be sure that he’s going to take full advantage of the assistance he received from Skoda, which generated 3D models of Kelemen on his bike using 150 high-definition cameras. The Czech automaker then evaluated the data using a computational fluid dynamics simulation that revealed wind currents that developed around Kelemen while he was riding. It was then determined by Skoda’s engineers that the cyclist needed to adjust his posture on his bicycle so that he would meet less air resistance, which in turn could help improve his time and his chances of securing a medal.

BMW and Skoda’s attempts in aiding Olympic athletes are just two of many examples of the healthy partnership between automakers and athletes. McLaren, for one, is known for lending a hand in preparing Great Britain’s athletes in past Olympics, most notably in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where it helped design the sled that propelled Lizzy Yarnold to the gold medal. Even Ferrari is a regular helping hand to the Italian national team, even going so far as to provide Italian athletes with Ferrari-made equipment in past Olympics. Even former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo also famously once quipped: “If there is even one-thousandth of Ferrari in Italian victories, we’ll be honored.”

These partnerships are not uncommon anymore, but they don’t get the publicity they probably deserve. It won’t even be surprising if other automakers have put in their own time and effort to help other athletes too. It’s just part of a growing partnership that figures to get bigger now that the auto industry itself is in a race of its own to develop the next major technological advances.

Hopefully, Kelemen has as much success as the U.S. Swimming team has had in the 2016 Rio Olympics to validate all the help that Skoda put into his preparation for the games.

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