Fri, Jun 29, 2012 - Page 19 News List

US team gets some high-tech help to reach London


Advances in technology will allow US athletes to have their coaches examine their pre-Olympic workouts even if those coaches cannot make the trip to England for the Games next month.

And the day might soon be here where coaches can download video of an athlete’s Olympic leap or throw into a device while seated in the stands and advise their pupil on how to improve while awaiting another chance to perform.

USA Track and Field’s high-performance program outlined some of its work during a rest day on Wednesday at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Computer simulations set against videos of athletic efforts show just where time or distance is lost in technique or positioning that is off from the perfect form needed to maximize speed or distance.

“I’ve learned a lot about my technique over the years,” said shot putter Jill Camarena-Williams, who was third last year at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea. “Something I lost in my technique I was able to get back through fractional movement, little things that have really helped. When I went to Daegu, my whole throw made sense, one great cog.”

With advances in video uploads, athletes can have workouts filmed at the US training camp in Manchester, England, and uploaded onto the Internet and viewed by coaches back in the US, who can offer feedback in short order to make adjustments quicker.

“Until two or three years ago, we weren’t taking advantage of real-time feedback,” USA Track and Field sport performance chief Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley said.

Coaches sitting in the stands at the Olympic who are in poor position to see their athletes compete could watch a video of the event and see well enough to potentially offer advice from afar.

“We haven’t been able to use that yet,” Camarena-Williams said. “It would help because from where he’s going to be, he’s not going to be able to see very well.”

After in-depth study of films of athlete movement, the program identified 30 percent of athletes as likely to be more susceptible to injury and provided an exercise program that could help combat the chances of such a setback.

That opens the door for a USA Track and Field program that allows athletes to pay only US$100 and have top-flight medical treatment at an Indianapolis hospital, both to repair injuries and remove pain that keeps athletes from maximizing their potential, but also to offer nutritional and mental help.

“There are so many opportunities we have to run better now,” sprinter Wallace Spearmon said. “I appreciate the options. We have come a long way.”

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