Alex Dyke’s Big Hour with Bryce Dyer
29 August 2012
Bournemouth University’s Bryce Dyer was the special guest on BBC Radio Solent’s Big Hour with Pat Sissons (standing in for Alex Dyke). A Senior Lecturer and researcher in Sports technology and ethics, Bryce has recently been working with the Irish cyclist Colin Lynch on a prosthetic limb for the immanent Paralympic Games.
The interview began with a lookback across the Olympics and the impact of technology in the events, particularly its contribution to team GB’s successes in cycling. “Medals relate to money,” says Dyer, “so the more successful the sport - the more funding is available for improvement.”
However this has raised challenging ethical questions as the competition has the potential to turn into one where the country with the most money wins, but Bryce doesn’t think this is realistic, “I think ultimately the cream will rise to the top... the best athletes will succeed, whatever happens.”
So what about the Paralympics? Surely the affect technology has on the athletes will be much greater and less easy to define? Dyer assured us that this is not the case. The Paralympic committee has strict regulations limiting the advances and what kind of route the development of prosthesis can take, but countries with more investment will have the latest technology within the regulations, and so as a result do better.
Pat Sissons asked if this was really fair; Dyer replied that it is fair game as long as everything is above board, “All they really wanted was prosthesis to help that runner run; now we’re going to get a situation with someone like Pistorius who will get the latest and greatest... I have no problem with it as long as it’s perfectly transparent and everyone accepts that as part of the game.”
Sissons wrapped up the discussion by asking Bryce’s prediction for the future of the Paralympics, and the potential for the technology used. Despite current discussion, Bryce believes it’s unlikely the Olympic Games and Paralympic games will ever be merged. He also dismisses the likelihood of super-advanced technology such as cybernetic limbs becoming commonplace, but cannot see the ‘Paralympic ideal’ of all athletes performing on a completely level ground becoming reality either, “The level playing field does not exist... the idea is to minimise the gap [between athletes] as much as possible, so the athlete is providing the performance - not their technology”
The interview covered many others issues that come to the fore during each Paralympic Games, such as the definition of categories and the benefits ordinary people can gain in the future thanks to technological innovation. “Sports innovations generate great ideas...[We’ve seen] carbon fibre ‘cheetah feet’ that allow the amputee to jog, not to mention the members of the armed forces that have been able to return to active service... instead of sitting behind a desk.” The benefits reaped by society “more than justify the cost outside of sport.”
Listen to the full interview online.Related Links:
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