If you’ve been following the women’s basketball tournament at the London 2012 Olympics, Swin Cash (USA), Lauren Jackson (Australia) and Érika de Souza (Brazil) are all household names. Today, after gruelling battles in the Group Stage, eight countries will be competing in the Quarter Finals:
USA vs. Canada (1400 BST)
Australia vs. China (1615 BST)
Turkey vs. Russia (2000 BST)
France vs. Czech Republic (2215 BST)
All of today’s matches will be held at the Basketball Arena built especially for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Nicknamed the Marshmallow, the arena will only be a temporary legacy for the city of London as it is set to be deconstructed and recycled post-Games. In true ‘green’ fashion, there have been talks of transporting it to Rio de Janeiro for re-use in the 2016 Summer Olympics!
Key to the arena, and to basketball, is the court. Official rules state that a basketball court must be 28m long and 15m wide. The court is divided into two halves with a free-throw line 5.8m inside both ends, and the three-point line a 6.75m radius from each basket. The playing surface of the court tends to be made of wooden parquet. This is also where the polyurethane fits in: in order to make the court more durable, resistant to abrasion and aesthetically pleasing, a polyurethane coating is applied.
Another basketball rule where polyurethane plays its part is shoe wear: players are required to wear high-topped shoes. Basketball shoes tend to be made of polyurethane; it’s even the case at the Olympics! Diana Taurasi, world-class (point and shooting) guard on the US team, is known to wear Nike LeBron 9 high-tops. Named after “King James”. Taurasi’s shoes are designed to be supportive, lightweight, breathable and long-lasting, hence the reason they use thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film.
Basketball has been a part of Olympic history since the Berlin 1936 Games, with the women’s event introduced at Montreal 1976. To win the gold, teams will need to meet the challenges that come with the fast-paced and physically demanding game. As these world class athletes battle it out on the basketball court, polyurethanes help them raise their game to the next level. May the best team win!