Sunday, August 22, 1999 Published at 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Sports professor's leap forward
Prof Jones with a machine used to develop golf equipment
Behind every advance in sporting excellence there is ... a leap forward in technology.
At least that is the thinking behind Loughborough University's appointment of what it says is the first professor of sports technology.
The first incumbent of the new post is Professor Roy Jones, who has worked closely with the sports firm Dunlop Slazenger since 1986 on a number of projects. These have led to major developments in the manufacture of tennis, badminton, cricket and hockey equipment.
Dunlop Slazenger are jointly funding the post with the Leicestershire university.
Part of his new role will be to oversee the introduction of a BSc degree in sports technology, a mix of sports science and engineering. It will involve understanding the human body and its capabilities, and the design and manufacture of sports equipment.
The university says Prof Jones has also been instrumental in obtaining research grants for engineering research from the Engineering and Physical Research Council.
"At the turn of the century we were the biggest manufacturer of sports goods equipment in the world bar none," he said.
"What's happened is the business of sport has gone elsewhere and other countries have taken the opportunity to develop."
'UK students making an impact'
But he added: "The UK recognises that it is a major area of business activity and what we're trying to do is establish our position as innovators in equipment."
The sports equipment industry is worth some £3bn a year to the UK.
"There are many other competitors in this area both in the Far East and in America, North America and these companies are very big and powerful companies with huge turnovers," Prof Jones said.
"But already we're seeing students from the UK making an impact into these companies anyway and I'm hoping this course will further that."
The first students will be recruited for the 30 places on the BSc course to start in autumn next year.