Invention and Introduction of blades

Blades are prosthetic lower limbs, used by amputee runners. Thanks to their curved shape and carbon fibre construction they are light and springy and allow runners to reach much higher speeds than traditional prosthetics.

Made by Icelandic manufacturers Össur, the 'Cheetah' running blade was named after the big cat because it mimics the leg shape. The curve creates a spring that stores the runner’s energy as they step down, then releases it, propelling them forwards. 

How are they made?

The Cheetah is made from 100% carbon fibre. The layers of the carbon fibre are structured in a specific way to suit the category of style manufactured. The strength of the blade comes from multiple layers of carbon fibre; at least thirty and as many as ninety sheets of carbon fibre are fused together. The more layers used make the blade stronger. The manufacturing is computer controlled to ensure that each foot made is to exact specification.

Who uses them?

First launched in 1996 for competing athletes, it has been chosen by athletes around the world and worn at many Paralympic Games.

How have they affected the Paralympics?

Para athlete Richard Whitehead in training

The Cheetah plays a small part, it's design helps minimise the disadvantage that Paralympic athletes have. The athletes training and effort is the main reason for improvement in amputee running times.

The benefits of blades? They give me a platform for success, which every athlete wants, whether you have an impairment or not.

Richard Whitehead MBE, Paralympic Athlete