26 April 2012

Racing against time@Straits Times

THE swimmer in Florida has given up fast food and late nights. The shooter is in London, training and praying. The paddler is in Spain, making up for lost ground. And the gymnast is in Singapore, searching for courage.

With exactly 100 days to go before the Olympic Games, time is running out for the Republic's top athletes, who are scattered across the planet chasing either qualification or redemption.

Each has a different story to tell. But the ending, they all hope, will be a joyous one in London.

The heat is on

Eight have already earned the right to compete in the British capital come July, including the globe-trotting women's table tennis team, the only ones who can call themselves Olympic medallists.

They are also the ones who are under the most pressure. Wang Yuegu, Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei are now only the world's third-best team, and they have three precious months left to overtake Japan and reclaim second place.

If they fail to do so, they will be seeded third in the Olympic team event - which means a meeting with China before the final, and near-certain elimination.

Their rescue mission begins this week at the Spanish Open in Almeria - the first of six table tennis World Tour events which offer ranking points before the window closes in July.

'It's important to rise up the team and individual rankings,' said Eddy Tay, their high performance manager. 'But it helps that Yuegu, Tianwei and Jiawei are experienced Olympians. That experience could make a difference.'

The nerves are jangling, too, for swimmer Tao Li, Singapore's butterfly queen, who has gone from fifth place at the 2008 Olympics to second-rate in the qualification chase.

She has yet to secure a ticket to London, having failed to meet the A qualification time (58.70 seconds) in the 100m fly. Her B time (58.78) is almost certainly good enough to earn her an eventual place on the starting blocks, but her sliding form is alarming.

'We're trying to get Tao Li to where she was previously,' said national head coach Ang Peng Siong. 'She usually delivers at major meets.'

Fear and sacrifice

Lim Heem Wei, the first gymnast from Singapore to qualify for the Olympics, is unburdened by such expectations. The only thing she fears is fear itself.

The 23-year-old is adding a more difficult move to her beam routine - a double somersault known as a double back pike. There is no room for error. If executed poorly, the gymnast could land on her head and injure herself badly.

'It's not going to be easy because I'm a bit timid by nature,' she admitted. 'But that's the psychological barrier I'm going to have to overcome.'

Sacrifices will have to be made. Lim - a university undergraduate - has dropped several modules in school to focus on sport.

In sailing, Victoria Chan, Elizabeth Yin, Scott Glen Sydney and Colin Cheng have all deferred their studies to go on a training voyage across Europe.

In the United States, butterfly star Joseph Schooling clocks 11km in the pool each day, does weights, underwater training and even boxing. No wonder he has no time for late nights with his friends - or fast food.

'I've given up Wendy's, McDonald's and KFC,' he said wistfully. 'There's only a couple of meets before the Olympics and I need to keep my head down and train hard even though I'm really tired.'

Hope springs eternal

At least Schooling knows he will be going to London for sure. Singapore's top air-rifle shooter Jasmine Ser reckons she has only a '50-50' chance of getting there, after failing to qualify directly.

An unused quota place (UQP) - given to countries whose shooters have all missed the cut - is her only hope. She is currently in London for a World Cup event at the Royal Artillery Barracks, the same venue which will be used for the Olympic competition.

'I'm training on the assumption that I can go, and the event will be a good gauge of my ability,' she said. 'I can only pray hard that I can get the UQP.'

Stefan Tseng knows that feeling. The triple jumper, along with three others from track and field, is banking on getting one of two wild cards that could be offered to Singapore.

'I'll try and qualify directly on my own, but it won't be easy,' said Tseng, whose personal best of 16.08m is still well short of the 16.8m required for automatic qualification.

Internal competitions

Before they can beat the rest of the world, some of Singapore's athletes have to first beat their own.

This is most stark in sailing, where it is all about the survival of the fittest. Yin and Sydney earned Olympic slots for their country in the Laser Radial and Laser events respectively. But they will have to finish ahead of their own teammates over two trial events - the World Championships and the pre-Olympic test regatta - to get to the Games.

This policy, according to SingaporeSailing, ensures that the most in-form sailor gets to represent the Republic.

In badminton, the equation is more complicated. Five shuttlers are in the qualification mix, which will take into account world rankings and whether giants like China and Indonesia hit their maximum quota of players.

The women's singles, in particular, will throw up a painful conundrum. Gu Juan, the world No. 17, is set to win a lone spot in the event, but the Singapore Badminton Association could pick SEA Games champion Fu Mingtian ahead of her.

Said the SBA's senior technical manager Chua Yong Joo: 'It will be a tough choice, but we will look at world rankings, their record against top opponents and their recent performances.'

The last lap

Twenty-five men and women across six sports made it to Beijing in 2008. This year, only 10 tickets in three sports have been won so far, though the eventual number could double.

The suspense will end on June 15, when the Singapore National Olympic Council unveils the final list of those who will wear the nation's colours at the Olympics. There will be heartbreak for some. But, for those who have made it, their hearts will flutter all the way to the opening ceremony on July 27.

'The days are passing faster than I thought,' said Lim. 'I'm doing well in training, but I want to deliver the same kind of standards when I get to London. I don't want to leave with any regrets.'
Predicted Medal Tables@Top End Sports

There are numerous systems for ranking the success of countries at the Olympics, usually based on actual results at the Olympic Games. Described below is the method of prediction modelling of expected results to rank countries, and leads to another method that ranks countries based on actual results compared to that predicted. These would not necessarily be the most success countries, but those that performed much better than expected.

Predictions have mostly come from economics scholars. There is also the predictions of the Olympic Medal Tracker from USAToday, which predicts the specific winners of each event. We have used the prediction results of those listed below to compare to the actual lists from the last few Olympics. See the predictions from 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Prediction Models

Dan Johnson - this prediction model is provided by this professor of economics at Colorado College. The model includes only non-athletic data. Historically, the prediction model included these five key variables: income per capita, population, political structure, climate, and a host nation advantage and using data from every participating nation since 1952. The model was updated for the 2012 predictions, removing political structure and climate factors and adding a host nation effect and a "nation-specific cultural effect". See the paper Johnson D. & A. Ali (2004), A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Social Science Quarterly, 85 (4), 974-93. More information is available at http://faculty1.coloradocollege.edu/~djohnson/Olympic.html. His predictions have been compared for 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Andrew B. Bernard of the Tuck School at Dartmouth. A forecasting model incorporating four factors: measures of available resources, population and per capita income, as well as the share of medals in the most recent Summer Olympics and a host effect. His research publications include: Bernard A.B and Busse, M, "Who Wins the Olympic Games: Economics Resources and Medal Totals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2004, Vol 86. No. 1. More information is available at mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/andrew.bernard/olympicmedals.htm. His predictions have been compared for 2000, 2004, 2008.

Olympic Medal Tracker - as provided by USAToday, produced in partnership with Infostrada Sports. It uses an algorithm to rank athletes and teams in each Olympic event based on recent results. For more information see www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/medal-tracker.htm. These predictions have been compared for 2012.

Sports Myriad - another prediction based on predicting individual medalists like the Medal Tracker above, by Beau Dure. Sports Myriad shifts though each sport and projects the winners in London, based on past results. The list will be updated based on recent data such as World Cups and World Championships. For more info see http://www.sportsmyriad.com/. These predictions have been compared for 2012.

Price Waterhouse - a model based on the following factors: Population; Average income levels (measured by GDP per capita at PPP exchange rates); Whether the country was previously part of the former Soviet bloc (including Cuba in this case); Whether the country is the host nation; and Medal shares in the previous Olympic Games. As PWC have only predicted total medals, their figures are yet to be analyzed.
The Australian Insititute of Sport hi-tech pool wins by a split second@Daily Telegraph

THE main pool at the Australian Institute of Sport is unlike any other in Australia, and possibly everywhere else.

It comes with a golf cart, for one. An underwater camera is attached to the golf cart, not to search for stray Titleists but to videotape strokes, as in the swimming kind, as it goes up and down the pool.

Yet the great innovation is the "wet plate" starting block.

Hidden within the starting block is enough technology to send an ape into space or, in this case, record horizontal and vertical force, horizontal and vertical velocity, reaction time, the time between leaving the blocks and hitting the water, the angle and velocity on entering the water, the take-off angle, the entry size in the water surface ...

The technology is the brainchild of a Mr Bruce Mason, who was behind the famous computer-generated stick figures that appeared before the Australian Rugby League judiciary many moons ago, when Canberra's John Lomax and Quentin Pongia were ordered up after tackles deemed not entirely legal.

The stick figures were to indicate body movement, according to the science, to show how the tacklers had no option but to commit their sins. The judiciary listened earnestly, then suspended both men.

Clearly, Mr Mason is a man ahead of his time, which would suggest that moustaches are about to make a comeback. Regardless, Mr Mason's software has improved markedly since then.

"We're trying to get him to adjust three degrees on level of entry," Nugent says.

Every dive is as different as every individual, and every change is incremental.

Yesterday Australia's men's 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams finished a three-day relay camp at the AIS, much of it around the wet plate technology. The women's relay teams conclude their three-day camp today.

The advantage of the technology is revealed by freestyler Matt Targett, who Nugent describes as the best relay racer in the world. "We won our world championship (last year in Shanghai) by 0.14 of a second," Targett says. "If you broke down the time left on the block between the athletes, between ourselves and the French, the difference was the discipline on the blocks."

In other words, they swam practically the same times but Australia's better changeovers made the difference.

The relay squads are the soul of the Australian team.

"It's been since the Mean Machine, that was the start of making the relay a special event," Eamon Sullivan says.

"It showed the commitment, the four guys shaving their heads. That pride and tradition of the four-by-one has carried on through the years and now it's one of the most sought-after spots on the team, where it used to be that people didn't want to do it to ruin their individual events."

Nugent credits the change to later, when Don Talbot returned as head coach in 1989 and made relays a priority, culminating with Australia beating the US at the Pan-Pacs in 1995, the first time the Yanks had ever seen silver in the 4x100m free. Now, he says, all the swimmers see the importance of the relays.

"Usually," he says, "if you make one of the relay teams you're going to win a medal at the big event, which in this case is the Olympics."

And much of the hard work is not done in sweat, so much, as intellect.

For hours this week, Australia's swimmers swam the last 15m or so into the wall for their teammate to leave the blocks with what they hoped was the perfect changeover. They in turn swam out 15m before the video was analysed.

It was all done in real time; the vision picked up by the golf cart camera, relayed to a control room poolside and back to the big flatscreen to analyse. Enough figures popped up on screen to confuse everybody not versed in the language of high performance.

"It depends on body type," Nugent says. "Some are more powerful off the block, others are better body entry, others flow through the water better.

"You have ranges we know we need to be in."

Hadler watched them break down his dive after they called for the three degree adjustment. "He adjusted one-and-a-half degrees and then messed something else up underneath, because it's all different," Nugent says.

"Because of the momentum shift, they'll change something else under the water. He went in with a little bit flatter angle but then he kicked a lot later and ended up going deeper."

The difference is just hundredths of a second. A fraction in time with the power to change a life forever.

23 April 2012

Team GB will win 27 gold medals at London 2012, research predicts@Guardian

Hang out the bunting and strike up the national anthem. British athletes will enjoy their best Olympics for more than a century and challenge for third in the medal table in London, according to academics who successfully predicted China's record medal haul in Beijing. The Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University has predicted Team GB will win 27 gold medals at London 2012, and 56 medals in total.

The report calculates that home advantage will equate to an extra 15 medals for Team GB than would otherwise have been the case. The British Olympic Association has said it is reluctant to set a medal table target, seeing "no performance advantage" in doing so and instead talking about fourth as an "aspiration".

But the elite-sport funding agency UK Sport has said Team GB is on course to equal the fourth place achieved in Beijing, arguing that it is only right to account for the public money that has been poured into high performance sport in the UK over recent years.

The 2008 Games represented Team GB's best performance for a century, with 47 medals in 11 sports including 19 golds. In its report, which combines "regression analysis" of previous performance with the effect of home advantage, the SRIC also predicts British athletes will win medals in 15 sports and across 18 disciplines.

That haul would equate to a wider spread of medals than at any Games since London first hosted the Olympics in 1908.

The BOA chief executive and Team GB chef de mission, Andy Hunt, said earlier this week it would be "ludicrous" if they were deemed a failure for failing to secure fourth in the medal table. But the analysis suggests they should be setting their sights on third.

In 2008, the university's forecasters predicted that host nation China would end the Games with 46 gold medals. They ultimately won 51. Professor Simon Shibli, co-author of the report, said that it is possible to quantify the impact of hosting the Games on performance. "Host nation advantage provides a quantifiable benefit, which will result in a larger medals' haul than if the Olympics were held elsewhere. Influences such as home crowd support, familiarity with venues, the right to contest more events and enhanced scores in subjectively judged sports, such as gymnastics and diving, will positively affect Team GB's performance," Shibli said.

He said that 27 gold medals should "comfortably secure" the fourth place medal table finish targeted by UK Sport and the BOA and give the team a "fighting chance" of overhauling Russia to finish third.

Another of the ambitions for London, shared by UK Sport and the BOA, is to achieve "more medals in more sports" than any time since 1908. The analysis, based on the experience of previous host cities, shows that Britain's athletes are on target to achieve that goal as well.

In 2008, Britain's success was highly dependent on a small number of sports. Of the 19 gold medals, 16 were won in cycling, sailing, swimming and rowing. Across all medals, the top four sports accounted for 69% of all medals won.

While they are again expected to provide the lion's share of medals, the report's authors expect other sports to contribute based on the experiences of previous hosts and given the unprecedented investment.

In its conclusion, the report's authors argue that their findings prove that the traditional model of predicting success – using factors such as a country's size and GDP – is less valuable than considering the investment that goes into elite sport, including bidding for major events, and the development of a high performance system.

The report's co-author Professor Chris Gratton said: "Team GB's success will be further evidence that elite sport performance is a managed phenomenon, rather than simply being reliant on a country's demographic and economic dimensions. "The positive host nation effect identified indicates that winning the rights to host the games in the first place is an integral part of this management."

The amount of public investment in elite sport in Britain has increased hugely since the team secured only one gold medal at Atlanta in 1996. There was a further hike in 2005, when London won the right to host the Games.

Next month, UK Sport - which has invested around £500m of public and Lottery money over the current Olympic cycle - will publish medal range targets for each sport based on consultation with each, but will not break down whether those medals will be gold, silver or bronze.

The forecasters accept that it is difficult to equate medal performance with the final position in the medal table, because it depends on the performance of rival nations. It is mathematically possible, if highly unlikely, to win 27 gold medals and still finish 10th in the medal table.

Winning 27 gold medals, as predicted by the forecast, has been insufficient to secure third place in the medal table on five previous occasions – 1976, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2004.

20 April 2012

BMW Developing New Motion Tracking Technology for Swimmers, Latest Effort in Partnership with Team USA@around the rings

After successfully deploying cutting-edge technology to help America’s long jumpers go farther, faster, BMW is now turning its attention to USA Swimming. This latest effort will provide quantitative analysis of swimmers’ starts and turns – critical to success in the sport – via a unique motion tracking system. This technology initiative is central to BMW’s comprehensive U.S. Olympic program which endeavors to advance the performance goals of Team USA while bringing communities across the country closer to the excitement of the Olympic Games.

In addition to these efforts in North America, BMW UK, in its role as official Automotive Partner, will be providing a fleet of approximately 4,000 vehicles including low emission diesel, hybrid and electric cars as well as motorcycles and bicycles to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), among other host-market activities.

“As a major contributor to the U.S. economy, BMW is proud of our nearly 40-year history of manufacturing and operations in the United States,” said Dan Creed, Vice President, Marketing, BMW of North America. “The Olympic Movement and BMW share a common focus on performance and sustained competitive excellence. Through this sponsorship we are able to connect with customers throughout the country and extend the Olympic partnership through unique customer programs that drive brand affinity and sales.”

Driving Athlete Performance

As the Official Mobility Partner of the United States Olympic Committee, BMW is combining sports science with insights from automotive engineering, such as research into camera based pedestrian detection and tracking, to help Team USA athletes improve their performance. The first U.S. Olympic technology project BMW announced as part of this program was a velocity measurement system developed in partnership with USA Track & Field which measures and provides real-time analysis of three key parameters in the execution of a long jump – horizontal approach velocity, vertical take-off velocity and take-off angle. The project with USA Swimming, currently in development, aims to produce a motion tracking system that automatically captures a swimmer’s stroke at starts and turns and completes a performance data analysis for coaches – an expected improvement over the current approach of manual stroke counting and video study. With this new technology, BMW intends to apply quantitative analysis techniques to evaluate how major and minor adjustments in form and technique affect overall performance.

“Developing a first-of-its-kind training technology for Olympic athletes is very exciting for BMW,” said Dirk Rossberg, Head of the BMW Group Technology Office USA. “We’re eager to build upon what we learned from USA Track & Field, and are focused on delivering performance data for USA Swimming to help improve starts and turns - those pivotal moments in a race where Olympic medals are lost and won.”

13 April 2012


ew Zealand Football's award-winning development blueprint, the 'Whole of Football' plan, is poised to expand after a successful pilot year.
Launched last year among 95 pilot clubs from around New Zealand after extensive research in leading football nations, the Whole of Football plan aligns development programmes with the aim to provide a unified pathway into the game and deliver a consistent high-quality experience to players, coaches, and officials.
The formulation of the wide-ranging plan was recognised by Sport NZ's innovation award in 2010 and introduced in the 2011 season at the junior level as a pilot scheme with investment from Sport NZ as well as corporate partners ASB and Persil.
This season the junior end of the plan rolls out to the majority of clubs and New Zealand Football Chief Executive Grant McKavanagh says the aim is very much to solidify the gains made during a busy and challenging first year.
McKavanagh explains "this is a game-changer for New Zealand's biggest grassroots sport and it's too important not to succeed.
"We've taken stock after year one and the feedback from development staff, from clubs and from participants will influence how we deliver in 2012.
"The numbers are quite staggering for a pilot year when you bring them together, and it wouldn't have been possible without the incredible support from Sport New Zealand, and the amazing dedication to improve football from the development staff at NZF and the federations."
Close to 70,000 people received specific football development programmes in 2011 as a result of the Whole of Football Plan and that number is only going to get bigger with the junior programmes looking to be expanded to all clubs in 2012 followed by similar pilot-first rollouts at youth and senior levels over the coming years.
McKavanagh added "almost 10,000 kids were involved in the new junior framework, our ASB Football in Schools programme reached over 31,000 students, and there were almost 4000 new coaches equipped with age-appropriate coaching courses.
"In addition, over 1700 youth elite players took part in Federation Talent Centres while in the fast growing area of women's football a massive 5000 girls took part in football over Girls and Women's Week alone."
Increased support from Sport New Zealand in 2012 will fund more regional development staff and further their reach into areas of coaching, women's development and futsal.
Fundamentally the Whole of Football plan aims to increase quality of the football experience at every level, from coaches to players, social to elite, young to old and Central Football Federation's Football Development Manager Brett Angel says the momentum at ground level is building.
Angel explains "there was naturally some scepticism at first when the new formats were introduced but parents have seen their kids more involved in every game have more touches and time with a ball and this has led to an improvement in skills and enjoyment.
"We've seen more kids playing, and the feedback we've had is that parents feel much more supported with the amount of trained volunteers, game leaders, and quality material behind it all."

Whole of Football Plan Year One:

• 95 Pilot Clubs
• 68,051 participants (players, coaches and volunteers) in Whole of Football programmes
• 31,695 students reached through ASB Football in Schools
• 14,382 children attended ASB Fun Football Centres, ASB Holiday programmes and football festivals
• 9,920 players took part in the new Junior Framework
• 3,833 new coaches formally qualified with age-appropriate courses
• 5,076 girls participated in Girls and Women's Week
• 1,735 players identified and trained through Federation Talent Centres
• 15 volunteers trained for WOF programmes

Skaters' Brains: Specialized Training of Complex Motor Skills May Induce Sports-Specific Structural Changes in Cerebellum@Science Daily

A new study, using brain imaging technology, reveals structural adaptations in short-track speed skaters' brains which are likely to explain their extraordinary balance and co-ordination skills.

The work by Im Joo Rhyu from the Korea University College of Medicine, and colleagues, is published online in Springer's journal Cerebellum.
The cerebellum in the brain plays an essential role in balance control, coordinated movement, and visually guided movement, which are key abilities required for short-track speed skaters as they glide on perfectly smooth ice, cornering and passing at high speeds. Previous studies have shown that damage to the cerebellum results in impaired balance and coordination. In addition, structural changes in the brain have been documented following training of complex motor skills, in both jugglers and basketball players for instance.

Are these changes sports-specific?
To assess the effect of short-track speed skating training on the relative structure and size of the two brain hemispheres, the authors analyzed brain MRI scans of 16 male professional short-track speed skaters. They compared them to scans of 18 non-skaters, who did not engage in regular exercise.
They found that skaters had larger right hemispheres of the cerebellum and vermian lobules VI-VII (the lobes connecting the left and right parts of the cerebellum) than non-skaters. These results suggest that the specialized abilities of balance and coordination in skaters are associated with a certain amount of flexibility in the structure of the right hemisphere of the cerebellum and vermian VI-VII.
Why do the structural changes occur to the right side of the cerebellum? Gliding on smooth ice requires specialized abilities to control dynamic balance and coordination. During cornering at high speed, short-track speed skaters turn only to the left while maintaining balance on their right foot. Standing on the right foot activates the right lobes of the cerebellum.
In addition, learning a visually guided task is thought to occur in the right side of the brain. Therefore the larger volume of the right hemisphere of the cerebellum in these skaters is likely to be associated with the type of movements which the sport requires, for strong visual guidance while cornering and passing.

The authors conclude: "Short-track speed skaters' specialized abilities of balance and coordination stimulate specific structural changes in the cerebellum, following extensive training. These changes reflect the effects of extraordinary abilities of balance and coordination on the right region of the brain."

In Sung Park, Nam Joon Lee, Tae-Young Kim, Jin-Hoon Park, Yu-Mi Won, Yong-Ju Jung, Jin-Hwan Yoon, Im Joo Rhyu. Volumetric Analysis of Cerebellum in Short-Track Speed Skating Players. The Cerebellum, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s12311-012-0366-6
BMW gives U.S. athletes new tool for Olympic training@marketwatch

Luxury automaker BMW is launching a groundbreaking system aimed at helping American athletes perfect their technique.

The BMW Velocity Measurement System, developed exclusively for USA Track and Field, will give real-time feedback to athletes. At first, it will provided only to long jumpers, though its developers say it can be useful for sprinters and distance runners, among others.

NFL and Nike unveil new team jerseys

This season, Nike will design the player jerseys for all 32 NFL teams. The designs were unveiled today in Brooklyn, NY. MarketWatch's Andria Cheng was there and spoke with Nike's president about the new jerseys.

The system, unveiled Tuesday, will be permanently located at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

In a sport where results are measured by seconds and meters rather than points scored, American track and field athletes and coaches are hoping that using the system will give them a competitive edge at this summer’s London Olympics.

Track and field, considered key in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s efforts to boost its medal haul at this year’s Games, gets most of its sponsorship from shoe manufacturing companies, so working in this way with a company like BMW is a first. The sport has seen some renewed interest in sponsorship from other industries, including recent event partnerships from information-technology company Harris Corp. /quotes/zigman/228828/quotes/nls/hrs HRS +1.21% and brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev /quotes/zigman/558553/quotes/nls/bud BUD +1.69% .

The project began last summer as a collaboration between engineers at BMW /quotes/zigman/143350 DE:BMW +6.06% /quotes/zigman/143326 XE:BMW +2.91% and sports scientists affiliated with the USOC and USATF.

Cris Pavloff, advanced technology engineer at BMW, said in a conference call Tuesday that the system’s development for track and field will help inform the next generation of pedestrian detection technology for the company’s cars.

Six-year pact

The completion and launch of the project is part of a six-year deal between BMW and the USOC that began in July 2010, which also sees the automaker support four national governing bodies: the USATF, USA Bobsled & Skeleton, US Speedskating, and USA Swimming.

BMW plans to reveal details of other research projects with the USOC and governing bodies on April 18, 100 days before the London Olympics.

Under the deal, BMW provides both financial and performance technology assistance to these organizations. The company said Velocity Measurement System will remain under exclusive use of USATF even beyond the expiration of the relationship.

BMW also has relationships with the Olympic teams of Great Britain, China, France, and Greece, as well as the German bobsled team.

The system is based on existing pedestrian detection systems available in some BMW automobiles, which contain cameras on the front bumpers to provide more environmental feedback to drivers. Coaches at Chula Vista, where some 30 track and field athletes train, will start using the technology by watching long jumpers perform before a camera which tracks vertical and horizontal velocity as well as jump angle based on sensory feedback from a special hat worn by the athlete.

Germany’s BMW Group, which narrowly leads competitor Mercedes-Benz /quotes/zigman/231575 DE:DAI +1.21% /quotes/zigman/231568 DDAIF +2.06% in U.S. luxury car sales by volume, reported net profits of €4.9 billion ($6.5 billion) in fiscal year 2011. The U.S. is currently its largest single market for the brand, comprising 18.4% of sales.

USATF, the non-profit national governing body of the sport, will conduct the 2012 Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon from June 21 through July 1.

11 April 2012

Mission Gives Green Light For Home Games Success@EIS

UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sports agency, responsible for investing over £300 million of National Lottery, Exchequer and Team 2012 presented by Visa funds into Britain’s best Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes for London 2012, have today revealed that, collectively, sports remain on track and are in a better position to succeed than ever before with just over 100 days to go.

‘Mission 2012’ was launched in 2008 and was developed to help each Summer Olympic and Paralympic sport understand how it is progressing against key performance criteria and identify anything that might stand in the way of success in 2012. It requires sports to think about their World Class Performance Programmes in three dimensions based around their System, their Athletes and the Climate within the sport.

Using a traffic light system, each sport is benchmarked against its agreed aspiration for 2012. If scored overall green then progress is deemed to be on track; if amber then challenges have been identified that require attention and action is being taken. If the assessment is red, then intervention by UK Sport is required.

In this penultimate Mission 2012 submission before London 2012, of the 28 Olympic sports assessed, 15 are now rated as green overall, the most since Mission 2012 began in January 2008, with 13 rated amber and no sport has an overall rating of red. The 18 Paralympic sports also remain on track, with ten sports on a green rating overall. The remaining eight sports are rated amber and no Paralympic sport rated as an overall red.

Liz Nicholl, UK Sport’s Chief Executive, said “It’s fantastic to see the majority of our Olympic and Paralympic sports, and more than ever before, in such a good place with just over 100 days to go. It has been an incredible journey so far, we are on track and the best is yet to come.

“The Mission 2012 process reassures us that our investment is working, it shows us where our support can have the most performance impact and allows us to remain confident in our ambitions for London 2012; to achieve a top four Olympic finish and second in the Paralympics, winning more medals across more sports.

“The final Mission 2012 assessment will take place in June, at which point we will be confirming the performance target ranges we will have agreed with each and every sport, bringing the scale of our collective ambitions for this momentous home Games into sharp focus.”

Minister for Sport and The Olympics, Hugh Robertson, said: “The increases in National Lottery funding agreed by the Government in May 2010 have allowed us to fully fund our athletes for London 2012 and beyond. In London we want Team GB and ParalympicsGB to deliver more medals across more sports than in Beijing and UK Sport’s latest analysis shows that preparations are going well.”

Gary Hall, GB Taekwondo’s Performance Director, said: “We’ve just named the team for the upcoming European Championships and competition for places remains intense, particularly as this is our final selection event before we choose the athletes that will represent GB at London 2012.

“The Europeans is an important event for us and a key milestone ahead of the Games. It’s a great chance for our British athletes to get valuable experience, medals and ranking points on home soil and we’re grateful for UK Sport and National Lottery support in enabling us to host this event.

“The fact that selection decisions are now so tough reflects how far we’ve come in the ‘London cycle’. We’ve been able to develop young talent such as Jade Jones whilst fast tracking athletes brought into the Academy via Talent ID initiatives, such as Damon Sansum and Ruebyn Richards.

“We’ve been able to attract world class coaches from overseas whilst maintaining a focus on developing British coaching talent, such as Paul Green and Steve Jennings, with the support of UK Sport’s elite coach development programmes.

“With the clock ticking towards the 100 day to go marker, we’ve still got a lot of hard work to do. But we’re on track and have a great chance to make a big impression in London this summer.”

UK Sport has increased the scope of its ‘Mission Control’ process to cover both plans for the Winter Games in Sochi 2014 as well as early thinking for the next Summer Games in Rio in 2016. Currently, one winter sport, Bobsleigh, is rated green overall, and the remaining five winter sports are amber.
Support for high performance sport research@ASC

Minister for Sport Kate Lundy today welcomed the new Director of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Matt Favier, by announcing $1 million in funding for research into high performance sport.

'It is a great pleasure to welcome Matt to the AIS and also announce this important high performance funding research,' Senator Lundy said.

'The Government is committed to ensuring the AIS remains a leader of pioneering high performance sport research, and elite athlete training and development.

'This high performance funding will ensure the AIS can continue to support our elite athletes.'

The money was made available through the Australian Government’s Pathways to Success Initiative to support new research and has been allocated into three separate funds – the Sport Innovation Fund, the High Performance Sports Research Fund and the Big Idea Fund. A total of 44 successful research proposals were identified to support our athletes and build on the innovative research projects already underway at the AIS.

'While we celebrate the performances of our elite athletes, often the research, science and innovation work that unfolds behind the scenes is overlooked,' Senator Lundy said.

'In such an important year for Australian sport, research has the potential to turn the performances of our athletes into medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

'At the Olympics, what separates a medal winning performance and placing 4th or 5th can be extremely small - this is where high performance research can make a real difference.'

The funding announcement coincided with former AIS scholarship holder, Matt Favier, commencing his job as AIS Director, having returned to Australia after eight years in the United Kingdom, including two years with UK Sport.

'He has excellent credentials as a leader in the field of high performance sport,' Senator Lundy said.

“His decision to come home at such a crucial time in the lead up to the London Olympics is an endorsement of the international regard of the AIS.”

Mr Favier said innovative research was a cornerstone of the AIS’s work and critical to sporting excellence.

'It is great to be back home and I look forward to seeing the results of this research funding,' Mr Favier said.

'This round of research funding will result in money being spent with key high performance partners in the national institute network.'

In Mr Favier’s position as Head of High Performance Solutions at UK Sport, he played a significant role in shaping strategic investment of funding to UK sporting bodies as well as developing high performance strategies and solutions for sports.