31 December 2012

Thank you...

I started this blog sportsci.blog in Nov 2003 as a tool to share latest news and updates in sports science around the world. I will continue to do so in other platforms like facebook and twitter.

Although today will be the last post, please keep supporting sports science in 2013 and beyond. We need to keep learning, keep criticizing, and keep taking actions.

Taisuke Kinugasa
Think Globally, Act Locally

23 May 2012


SSI Signs MOUs with China, Hong Kong and Korean Sports Institutes to Boost Sports Science and Medicine Support for Team Singapore

Singapore, 17 May 2012 - To help Team Singapore athletes prepare better for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and beyond, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) is tapping on its wider network of Asian Sports Institutes for more training, athletes development as well as sports medicine and sports science capability development opportunities. By collaborating with these sports institutes, the SSI hopes to increase its depth and breadth of sport science and medicine support for our athletes.

2 The MOU signings are part of the sports science and medicine symposium that is being held in Singapore on 17 and 18 May 2012. The conference brings together the widest representation of regional sports institutes to date, with delegates from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Malaysia taking part.

3 Established just two years ago, the SSI will certainly benefit from the vast experience of these well-established institutes, some of which have produced multiple Olympic champions. Areas of collaboration include cooperation in sports science and medicine research and development, sharing of data and research methodology, athlete and coach training exchange programmes, as well as specialist exchange and development programmes.

Sports Science and Medicine Research & Development

4 The China Institute of Sports Science (CISS) is the country's oldest and largest sports research institute. With 50 years of experience under its belt, CISS has extensive knowledge in the area of elite sports science research. They are also very well versed in applying scientific research to enhance their athlete training systems. The SSI is certainly looking to tap into their expertise to further develop our nation's capabilities in this area. CISS is also very much experienced in using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat sports injuries. This is a niche area of expertise that the SSI can look into to better serve our Team Singapore athletes.

5 Having recently visited the CISS facility in Beijing in February, Associate Professor Fabian Lim, Executive Director of the SSI said, "CISS is the lead organisation for the more than 100 sports institutes in China. The SSI is looking to incorporate more scientific research and evidence to enhance our training systems. Hence, the collaboration with CISS will be an effective gateway into the network of the sports institutes in China, enabling us to gain insights into their scientific and training capabilities, which in turn will be a key resource for our athletes."

6 Through our partnership with these institutes the SSI's aims to also further develop our local sports science and medicine specialists so that they are able to better care for our athletes. Professional attachments will give our scientists and trainers the opportunity to widen their knowledge in their respective specialisations, as well as the chance to apply their knowledge to a wider pool of athletes.

Athlete and Coach Training Exchange Programmes

7 One of the challenges of having a small athlete population is the practicality of heavy investment into setting up sophisticated facilities and programmes. However through SSI's affiliation with these regional institutes, national sports associations (NSAs) with a smaller pool of elite athletes and coaches will be able to send them for training programmes at these partner institutes. Sports that could possibly benefit from this include archery, canoeing, and winter sports.

8 Lim June Liang, a Team Singapore speed skater who hopes to qualify for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics said, "I just started training on ice five months ago, and have made short trips to China and Korea to train with teams over there. Training with them has really helped me to improve by leaps and bounds. I am fully committed to putting in my all to try to qualify for the Olympics and an opportunity to train overseas for an extended period of time will certainly help a lot."

Athlete Development Programmes

9 With about 70% of Team Singapore athletes, having to juggle between pursuing sporting and academic excellence at the same time, a holistic sports scholarship framework is needed to support our athletes in balancing their school and sports commitments. With over 20 years of experience in this area, Singapore will be looking to the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) as a guide when formulating our own framework. The SSI plans to introduce the sports scholarships system to better support Singapore's sports talents soon.

10 Mylene Ong, a Team Singapore swimmer who will be starting university in January 2013 welcomes the new scheme. She said, "At the Singapore Sports School, classes were arranged around my training schedule. However, I will not have this luxury once I start university next year. As I plan to continue training full time, a scholarship will certainly give me the financial help and flexibility in timing that I need to effectively balance school and training."

11 Ultimately, the aim of the SSI is to provide Team Singapore athletes with structured multidimensional training programmes by incorporating all aspects of sports science and medicine. Through the athlete services unit, the Institute looks to continue to develop a support system that takes care of the holistic development of the athlete, nurturing them into well-rounded individuals.

15 May 2012

SSI Sports Science & Medicine Symposium 2012

Sports Corporate - SSI Sports Science & Medicine Symposium 2012

The Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) will be hosting its inaugural Sports Science & Medicine Symposium from 17 to 18 May 2012 at Concorde Hotel. The theme of the symposium is "A Holistic Support System for Elite Athletes". This 2-day event will bring together leading practitioners to share and discuss best practices in recovery strategies for elite, high performance sports planning and athlete support management.

The scientific and athlete management programmes will be presented on 17 May 2012 and presentations by the respective sports institutes from the region (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia) will take place on 18 May 2012. Simultaneous interpretation from English to Chinese language will be provided.

Click below to learn more about:
Speakers' Profiles
Session Description

For more information about the symposium, please email to ssi.symposium2012@gmail.com
UK Sport and P2i team up to create winning formula@UK Sport

UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sports agency, has announced a unique innovation partnership with P2i, the world leader in liquid repellent nano-coating technology, to help protect equipment and accessories developed through UK Sport’s Research and Innovation programme in cycling and sailing, two of Britain’s leading sports.

The liquid repellent coating dramatically reduces the surface energy of a product, so that when liquids come into contact with it, they form beads and simply run off. By repelling the uptake of liquids, the nano-coating will ensure that the sporting equipment and accessories don’t gain any extra weight during the competitions that they enter, remaining lightweight and dry.

Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, said: ”Our job is to ensure our athletes make it to the start line among the best prepared and most feared in the world. Britain has a wealth of expertise in science, engineering and technology and by creating novel partnerships with world leading companies like P2i, we can tap into a much wider network of skills and abilities from other industries to ensure we are leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit of sporting excellence.”

Stephen Coulson, CTO, P2i said: “P2i has been identified by UK Sport to bring winning advantage to the sports men and women of this country by applying our award-winning nano-coating technology to protect cycling and sailing equipment and accessories developed through UK Sport’s Research and Innovation programme. For example, our technology applied to the footwear of outdoor cyclists means that even in the harshest of conditions, they will remain lightweight and dry. In a year when sportsmanship is at the forefront of our nation’s minds, we are delighted to be able to present our cutting edge process into the sporting world to improve the chances of success.”

Chris Boardman, Head of Research and Development, British Cycling, said: “British Cycling has recognised for some time that to succeed at the highest level in modern sport, you need to do more than just be fit and healthy. Every detail, every nut and bolt has to be scrutinised and perfected.

“In our Research & Development program we have learned that the big changes nearly always come from outside the sport, new people brining new thinking and ideas. This was very much the case with P2i who are helping us bring a cutting edge process into the sporting world to enhance our chances of winning.”

Peter Bentley, Technical Projects Manager for RYA Skandia Team GBR, said: “The P2i process allows us to virtually eliminate water absorption in some of our technical equipment. This reduces all-up weight by a few grams, which in turn equates to seconds saved around the race course; all part of our leave-no-stone-unturned strategy."

01 May 2012

Australia to lead the world in sports technology@Kate Lundy

Minister for Sport and Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Kate Lundy, today launched a new collaborative initiative which brings together universities, sports technology enterprises and other industry players to help the development of new sporting technologies in Australia.

The Gillard Government has provided $225,000 in funding to establish the new Australian Sports Technologies Network and invest in Australia’s continued improvements in sporting performance.

“This new network has the potential to unearth a new wave of Australian-made sports technologies,” Senator Lundy said.

“As global market opportunities emerge, growing this industry in Australia could lead to great economic opportunities and thousands of jobs.

“This is why the Australian Government is supporting the establishment of the Network and investing in continued improvement in sporting performance and economic performance.

“With some of our finest researchers, developers and entrepreneurs supporting this new initiative, I am confident it will deliver dividends.”

The Australian Sports Technologies Network is a national collaboration based in Geelong.

Its foundation partners include four universities, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), eight sports technology enterprises, venture capitalists and Information Technology experts.

In its first year, the Network will focus on projects that bring technology developers together, examine market opportunities and support product exposure and marketing.

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.