6x IRONMAN World Champion set for stunning return after bike crash – thanks to titanium piston in his thigh and a high-propulsion carbon cane...
Longstanding HUUB ambassador, and the legend of our sport, Dave Scott, is set for a fairy tale comeback. While fans know all about his world-beating exploits on the racecourse, far fewer are aware that at the start of 2021 Dave had a bike crash that left him with a fractured thigh bone and walking with a cane. Any normal 67-year-old falling off a bike might think: ‘I’m screwed’. Dave Scott thinks: ‘Titanium screws!’ Dave put his hand up for a pioneering operation that has not only returned him to health but will also herald a return to competitive action for the Boulder-based coach.
The triathlete known throughout the sport as The Man has now become The Machine after undertaking a revolutionary new medical procedure to insert spring-assisted titanium rods into his upper left leg that effectively turn his femur into a piston. New composites borne out of the research laboratory for Artificial Limb Intelligence (ALI) in Derby in the UK have been used for the prototype structures, and Dave is seen as the perfect physical specimen to use as a guinea pig.
“You’ll find no fitter 67-year-old anywhere on the planet,” said German professor Dr Andi Neulegg, ALI’s head of research. “We’re excited to help set Dave on the comeback trail. Again.”
A further challenge was that because Dave’s left leg can now generate so much power, a carbon-graphite “nouveau-cane” has been developed that he can use for balance and propulsion for his right side. World Triathlon has approved its use for competition.
While the pandemic has delayed long-distance triathlon events around the globe, when racing is resumed, expect Dave to be among the pacesetters once again.
Lab testing estimates that the biotensegrical advantage from the surgery will reduce Dave’s Ironman bike and run splits by up to 30%, by enhancing foot-ground rebound timings, shock attenuation, propulsion phase energy return, gait efficiency and power transfer.
On the swim: it’s believed that the market-leading HUUB wetsuit and swim-skin already maximises time-saving in the water, but Dave feels the titanium insertion will strengthen his six-beat kick to give added propulsion. “I dare anyone to try and stay on my feet in the swim now,” Dave said. “The jet-wash coming at them will be like a tsunami.”
On the bike: torsional rigidity of the limb delivers a previously unimaginable 41% improvement in medial lateral stiffness, resulting in more power through the pedals.
On the run: ground contact time is reduced by 9%, while propulsion phases show an additional 14% in efficiency and energy return.
HUUB founder Dean Jackson said: “The numbers seemed skewed the first time we saw them. We knew there was a gain in carbon shoes, but this level of benefit from titanium thigh rods totally took us by surprise.
“When you run the maths, it equates to run time efficiency of 14mins 10secs over the marathon distance and an average 20mins 21secs saving over 112miles on the bike. Forget next %. This is next level per cent!”
Dave, who feared his triathlon career might finally have been over – again – raved about the performance benefits of his new leg and thinks the advantage could be even greater.
He said: “I’m at the track with my team right now and we just ran a pretty damn hard work out. I ran a few 400m at 47-48sec – with the cain – and they will all vouch for that. I’m going to do the Ironman again. At 67, I feel strong, I don’t know what they did with the titanium, but its rebound and recoil is unbelievable. I think I could knock 25mins off the run I did 40 years ago and on the bike I’d certainly be under 4hrs on the Ironman course. I’ll see you at Ironman in October.”
Dave estimates his stride length is now three times longer than it was in 1989. He adds: “I’ve been saying for years that the pro men aren’t living up to their potential and should be running sub 2:30 in an Ironman marathon. Now I’m going to show them how to do it. People look at my age-group and say there’s no-one left in it. I correct them. I say: ‘There’s no-one in it who is safe!’. And yes, Mark, that includes you. It’s been almost 32 years, but I’ve some unfinished business on Mark & Dave Hill. I’m ready for Iron War II.”