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Standards Support Team USA as They Bring Home Olympic Gold


New York, Aug 13, 2012

Following a star-studded and pyrotechnic-heavy closing ceremony in London last night, the massive Olympic torch was extinguished to officially bring the 30th games of the Olympiad to a smoke-filled close. With the official medal counts in, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is proud to celebrate Team USA’s impressive performance: the U.S. led all other nations in both total medals won (104) and golds (46). And whether in the pool, on the track, or flying through the air, U.S. athletes were supported by the standards that help make elite sports competitions safe and satisfying spectacles.

Among the most widely watched of the gold medal wins by the U.S. were in swimming, highlighted by Michael Phelps’s triumph as the most-decorated Olympian in history. To assure that Phelps – plus Lochte, Franklin, Schmitt, and all the competing swimmers – dive into optimally and reliably heated pools, ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Air-Conditioning Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has developed ANSI/AHRI Standard 1160-2008, Performance Rating of Heat Pump Pool Heaters. This American National Standard (ANS) covers rating and testing of complete factory-made heat pump pool heater refrigeration systems, and can help to maintain water temperature at the 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit mandated for competitions by the International Swimming Federation.

Even more important is the safety of the racers and spectators at an Olympic swimming event. For London 2012, a new permanent aquatic center designed by acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid was constructed, and quickly gained the affectionate nickname “the Pringle” for its resemblance to the popular chip. An International Standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provides specifications for electrical installations applicable to communal facilities and workplaces, including sport arenas and swimming halls – whether they look like Pringles, Bugles, or any other salty snack.

IEC 60364-7-718 Ed. 1.0 b:2011, Low-voltage electrical installations - Part 7-718: Requirements for special installations or locations - Communal facilities and workplaces, includes guidelines for access routes and escape routes, and other safety specifications. This standard was developed by IEC Technical Committee (TC) 64, Electrical installations and protection against electric shock; the U.S. National Committee-approved U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to IEC TC 64 is the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

The women’s beach volleyball final was U.S. vs. U.S., but that didn’t make it any less exciting to watch veterans Misty May Treanor and Kerry Walsh Jennings set, spike, and dive for their third-straight Olympic gold. And while beach volleyball is traditionally played, unsurprisingly, on a beach, London’s Horse Guards Parade proved an iconic venue. Periodic rain and some cold evening temperatures couldn’t keep sell-out crowds of 15,000 from packing the temporary stands to watch the California duo take down their competitors – on the same site where King Charles I was marched to his beheading in 1649.

To assure legions of loyal fans – and the athletes themselves – have a clear view of every bump and kill, ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNA) published a standard that helps assure facilities can be designed to satisfy the most talented players and accommodate the greatest potential spectator capacity. IESNA RP-6-01, Sports and Recreational Area Lighting, provides design criteria for new lighting systems and for the evaluation of existing installations, including fundamentals of good illumination, equipment and design factors, power and wiring, illuminance calculations, floodlight aiming, and maintenance of light levels for sports and recreation facilities.

Gymnastics has for decades been one of the most popular Olympic events, and this year was no different as the U.S. women claimed goal in the team and individual all-around events. And providing more than 20 years of help in assuring the fairness and safety of gymnastic competitions around the world are a set of International Standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 378:1980, Gymnastic equipment – Parallel bars, specifies the functional and safety requirements, including dimensions, material, execution, and design, for parallel bars for use in competition and training in order to permit a true comparison of performance. Similarly, for the men, ISO 379:1980, Gymnastic equipment – Horizontal bar, provides the same type of guidance for the single horizontal bar. These documents were developed by ISO TC 83, Sports and recreational equipment; ASTM International, an ANSI member and ANSI audited designator, serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG Administrator to ISO TC 83.

Tennis was an Olympic event at the first modern games in 1896, but in 1924 it was dropped from the lineup, and did not make its return until 1988. Since then its popularity has soared, particularly this year when the hometown British crowd cheered on their countryman Andy Murray as he took the men’s gold. On the women’s side, however, it was USA all the way. Serena Williams became the first woman since 2000 to win gold in both the singles and doubles events in one Olympics – and on the Wimbledon grass court, no less, tennis’s greatest stage.

Keeping grass courts in optimal playing condition is the focus of an ANS from ASTM International. ASTM F1953-10, Standard Guide for Construction and Maintenance of Grass Tennis Courts, covers techniques for the construction and maintenance of grass tennis courts, including guidance for selection of soil systems and turfgrass species in court construction and for selection of management practices that will maintain an acceptable playing surface.

At the close of the much-lauded 2012 Summer Games, London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, proudly passed the Olympic flag to Eduardo Paes, mayor of 2016 Olympic host city Rio de Janeiro. And while the elite athletes of tomorrow train their way into winning condition for a shot at gold in Brazil, standards will be on their side no matter what anthem plays on the medal stand.

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