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.

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.

20 March 2012

Olympic medals expert makes his 2012 London Games predictions@Universal Sports

A Colorado College economist who has predicted Olympic medals with a 93 percent accuracy rate over six consecutive Olympic Games has made his predictions for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. He uses a model that, surprisingly, does not include athletic ability as one of its factors.

Daniel K.N. Johnson, a professor of economics at Colorado College, predicts that the U.S. will top the podium most often, followed by China, second, and Russia, third, with the host country, Great Britain, placing fourth.

Johnson's model of Olympic success has shown uncanny accuracy time and again. He first constructed the model with an undergraduate student co-author before the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the model has proven itself over six consecutive Olympics, averaging a correlation of 93 percent with actual medal counts, and 85 percent for gold medals specifically. This year, Johnson re-calibrated the model, with the assistance of another undergraduate student, Rafael Alonso-Arenas. It now matches 60 years of historical data with a correlation of 96 percent for all medals, and 95 percent for gold medals

Surprisingly, Johnson's model uses only non-athletic data to make forecasts--- per capita income, population and the advantage of hosting the Games (or of living nearby). In the past, the formula also included political structure and climate, but the team discarded those characteristics this year in favor of two different attributes-a host nation advantage that pre-dates and post-dates the Games actually hosted, and a "cultural specific factor" that helps to correct the model's historical under-predictions for nations like Australia and China.

Johnson treats the model's predictions as ‘benchmarks' to help set national expectations at realistic levels. "We all have expectations about how our own nation, or other nations, will perform so we attempt to quantify those expectations, so that each nation can celebrate victory if they exceed the model's predictions. For a small nation, winning three medals is an amazing accomplishment. For the U.S. or Germany or Russia, it's appropriate to expect a lot more," he said. "How much more? That's where the model comes in."

As a Canadian-born economist, Johnson is not a sports enthusiast, and in fact focuses on the economics of innovation and technological change. However, he is a self-proclaimed Olymp-ophile, always hoping that his model will be dramatically incorrect.

"The Olympics are a celebration of the exceptional," he says, "and the fact that an economic model can predict medal counts so accurately simply points to the fact that there are underlying patterns that favor certain nations over others. I watch for excellence, wherever it occurs, and I cheer most loudly where it is unpredicted."

During the last Summer Games, in Beijing in 2008, Johnson's model forecast that the U.S. would top the medal count, and it did, winning 110 medals (seven more than predicted). He also correctly predicted that China would top the gold medal count, and it did, winning 51 gold medals (seven more than predicted). During the last Winter Games, in Vancouver in 2010, the model predicted 27 medals for Canada (they won 26 instead), but the American and German teams both vastly outperformed expectations and topped the podium more often.

Historical precision for the Summer Games has been equally startling. Before the 2004 Athens Olympics, Johnson predicted the U.S. team would win 103 medals, including 37 gold; the U.S. team won precisely 103 with 35 gold. He said Russia would win 94 medals; it won 92. For the 2000 Sydney games, he predicted 90 medals for the U.S., with 33 gold. The Americans won 97, with 39 gold. For Australia, the host, he predicted 54 medals. Australia won 56.

Johnson's paper, "A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympics," was written in 1999 with Ayfer Ali while she was an undergraduate student and Johnson was on sabbatical at Harvard University. It was published in Social Science Quarterly in December 2004. Since then, Johnson has collaborated with students at Colorado College to make Olympic predictions based on that original model. This year, they decided to re-calibrate the model as well.

Johnson is the Gerald L. Schlessman Professor of Economics at Colorado College - located a stone's throw from the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in Colorado Springs. But if Johnson has his choice, he will be in London during the Games.

Johnson received his Bachelor of Social Science degree in Economics from the University of Ottawa in 1991; his Master's degree in Economics from the London School of Economics in 1992; and his Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University in 1998. He has been a professor at Colorado College since 2004, teaching and researching public policy and the economics of technological change.

This year, Johnson decided to report predictions for all 130 nations with available data. A full table of predictions is attached, in alphabetical order by nation, and a second table ranks all nations predicted to win five or more medals, in the standard Olympic order (ranked by gold medals first, then by total medal count).


15 March 2012

British Athletes Use Video to Run Faster, Jump Higher at Games@bloomberg

British athletes are turning to the biggest-ever Olympic video analysis project to improve their performance in between heats at this year’s Games in London.

The British Olympic Association will use live video footage from the venues to analyze athletes’ performances and movement in competition during the Games, which start July 27. The video feed, which costs 120,000 pounds ($191,000), will be sent to Team GB House, located just outside of the Olympic Park at the Stratford Westfield shopping center.

The captured footage will be fed into software produced by Dartfish, a Fribourg, Switzerland-based company that’s used by dozens of sports organizations and governing bodies as well as elite athletes including Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt. The British team is the only team to have minute-by-minute live access to the Olympic Broadcasting Services feed during the Games, said Dave Reddin, director of performance services at the BOA and a former England rugby player.

“From our point of view, there is very little home advantage,” at the London Games, Reddin said. “There are no extra seats, there are no extra privileges for Team GB. Hence we need to try and think more creatively about how we make the best of what we’ve got. And I think this will help us.”

As many as six analysts from the English Institute of Sport will be at Team GB House for up to 20 hours a day to help capture relevant video and provide analysis on athletes or scout the opposition in team sports such as basketball so the coaches can make the necessary adjustments.

“Coaches can only recall 30 percent of what they see, so that means 70 percent of the information isn’t used,” said Stafford Murray, head of performance analysis and biomechanics at the English Institute of Sport.

It’s the first time privately-held Dartfish, which was founded in 1998, will be delivering such a large project during an Olympic Games, Victor Bergonzoli, co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview.

“The goal is to get real-time feeds as quickly as possible into the hands of the coaches and athletes,” Bergonzoli said. During a soccer match for example, Dartfish will be able to tag all the passes not ending with a shot on goal, and send those clips to the coaches’ handheld devices such as iPads or tablets immediately after the game for analysis.

13 March 2012

One Year after, Japan Unites via Power of Sports@around the rings

Hundreds of representatives from Japan’s sports community and thousands of well-wishers joined some 200 young children from the northern part of Japan for a sports festival in Tokyo to mark the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This demonstration of the power of sports to unite and energeise a nation is one of the core values of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic bid.

Participants in the 3/11 Memorial ‘Kizuna’ Walk and Run included schoolchildren and young athletes from the affected area, who spent an unforgettable day meeting sports heroes and participating in games including football and rugby. Thrilled to receive personal instruction from former and current athletes, the young participants drew strength from the powerful medium of sport and the bonds (kizuna) of fellowship.

Tokyo 2020 President and Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said: “On behalf of the Japanese sports community, we sincerely appreciate the generous, heartfelt support and encouragement from friends worldwide as Japan strives to recover from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Japanese athletes and the sports community also have made great efforts to support the healing process. Events such as this embody our shared desire to give strength to those most affected. This same belief in the power of sports underpins Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

A 5km walk was led by Akio Usami, a three-time consecutive Marathon Olympian, who said: “It was a real pleasure to participate in the event and coach young people from the affected area. The strong bonds I felt with everyone reminded me of sport’s capacity to bring the world together. I sincerely hope we helped to energeise everyone and give them new hope.”

The event, which also raised donations for schools and an orphanage association, took place at Shiokaze Park, the planned venue for Beach Volleyball during the Tokyo 2020 Games. As one of the 16 venues in the bid’s Tokyo Bay Zone, the park offers impressive views of the waterfront, Rainbow Bridge and the skyline of the world’s most sophisticated urban metropolis.

Added Takeda: “The ‘kizuna’ event showcases sport’s capacity to inspire dreams, hopes, goals and positive change. Tokyo’s bid has extra significance as a spiritual and physical symbol of Japan’s recovery from a national tragedy. We have a great sense of responsibility to inspire and unite the entire population behind a common vision of Japan’s future. It is a bold national project to help us realise a better future by setting no limits and striving for excellence, as taught by the Olympic values.”

The Japanese sports community also is managing an ambitious five-year project to send Olympians and Paralympians to the affected area to inspire the area’s youth. The Sports Kokoro Project (www.sports-kokoro.jp) will visit 542 schools, aiming to put smiles on the faces of some 46,000 schoolchildren and fill their hearts (kokoro) with joy.

For more information, contact: pressoffice@tokyo2020.jp

12 March 2012

UK TID programme outcomes

Olympic 'best is yet to come' from Team GB, says talent head Warr@BBC

The head of Great Britain's Olympic talent factory believes the team could win more medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 than at this summer's Games in London.

Team GB won 47 medals at the 2008 Games in Beijing, the best return for a century, and that was good enough for fourth in the medal table.

That is also the target for London, albeit with more medals in more sports, but UK Sport, the agency that funds British Olympic sport, is confident Rio will be "even better".

"We can definitely expect more," said UK Sport's head of athlete development Chelsea Warr.

"The progress Team GB has made since world-class funding came in will be showcased in London, but the most interesting thing for me is that the best is yet to come.

"I think 2016 will be the real test, especially for the development programmes that underpin that success."

Sporting Giants

Warr was speaking to the BBC five years after the launch of Sporting Giants, an X Factor meets Superstars recruitment drive for handball, rowing and volleyball, three "tall sports". Aspiring Olympians aged 16-25 were asked to come forward for testing, providing they had played sport to a good level and were taller than 6'3" for men and 5'11" for women.

Nearly 4,800 people applied but that number was whittled down through seven stages of assessment until approximately 100 were added to the development programmes of the three sports.

With the 2012 Game now less than five months away, 17 Sporting Giants have already competed internationally, winning 13 medals. Eight of the group are on track to compete in London, including two of British Rowing's best hopes, Helen Glover and Vicky Thornley.

"Talent ID programmes match people to the sports that suit them. That usually happens by luck but what we try to do is reduce the luck factor," said Warr.

Since the success of Sporting Giants, UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport have run six more talent ID schemes across 17 different Olympic and Paralympic sports. These initiatives have unearthed hidden talents that have won 85 international medals.

Great Britain's Olympic fortunes were revitalised in 1997 when funding from the National Lottery, launched in 1994, was channelled to the country's brightest talents via UK Sport.

Team GB won only one gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to finish 36th in the rankings. Four years later, in Sydney, the team won 11 golds to climb to 10th and in Athens nine golds were claimed, a haul that maintained their top-10 status.

But the major breakthrough came in Beijing, where the team secured 19 gold medals and surged past Australia, France and Germany to claim that surprise fourth-place finish.

Warr admits the battle for medals will be keenly contested in London, particularly behind the three big powers of China, the US and Russia, but says Team GB's upward momentum should continue.

"We've gone from an era where we had a few plucky individuals who managed to climb their way to the pinnacle of their sport to a far more robust, more systematic, more sophisticated way of finding individuals who can win," the Loughborough-based sports scientist said.

Warr acknowledges that some of the thinking behind this approach has been borrowed from abroad but British Olympic chiefs have also looked to the arts, business and science for inspiration. Recent workshops, for example, have been with organisations as diverse as the European Space Agency and consumer electronics giant Sony.

"We can learn from any walk of life where performance really matters," she added.

Seven steps to success

- Sporting Giants (Feb 2007): search for hidden prowess in "tall sports"
- Pitch2Podium (May 2008): recycle talent from football and rugby academies
- Girls4Gold (June 2008): GB's biggest recruitment drive for women, aimed at six sports
- Fighting Chance (Oct 2009): call to combat athletes to try taekwondo
- Tall and Talented (Oct 2009): extension of Sporting Giants, aimed at basketball and rowing
- Paralympic Potential (Dec 2009): talent ID joint venture with ParalympicsGB
- Power2Podium (July 2011): hunt for talent in speed and power sports such as bobsleigh and rugby sevens

07 March 2012

ASC Strategic Plan: Working Together for Australian Sport is now available online@ASC

The ASC Strategic Plan covering the period from 2011-12 to 2014-15 was tabled in Parliament on 8 February and is now available online through the ASC website. The tabling of the plan, which has been approved by the Minister for Sport, represents an important milestone for the ASC in providing strong leadership and direction to the Australian sports sector to mid 2015.

A key focus of the plan are the partnerships with governments and the sport sector to achieve a shared national vision of more Australians participating and excelling in sport.

Copies of the ASC Strategic Plan (2011-12 to 2014-15) and the ASC Annual Operational Plan (2011-12) are now available in the Publications section of the ASC website.

The ASC’s Strategic and Operational Plans were developed in response to the ASC’s new policy direction and in alignment with the National Sport and Active Recreation Policy Framework (NSARPF), which represents a new era of cooperation and collaboration within sport.

Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Graham Henry will work with some of the country’s leading high performance coaches ahead of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond, High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) Chief Executive Alex Baumann has announced today.

Baumann says Sir Graham will help coaches fine-tune their preparations, so they can perform at their best in London. Sir Graham’s first assignment is with the Yachting New Zealand Olympic coaches later this month.

Sir Graham has signed a two-year contract with HPSNZ, and will work part-time during that period.

Sir Graham is committed to the development of coach leadership and most of his work with HPSNZ will have a longer-term focus. He will take on a mentoring role with targeted coaches, and will work with HPSNZ to help national sport organisations build the leadership capability of their high performance coaches.

“Sir Graham has 40 years’ experience in coaching and he knows what it takes to lead players and support staff to be the best in the world,” Baumann says.

“He will work with a range of coaches, of both teams and individuals, to help them become effective leaders of their programmes and people, increasing their chance of achieving sustained success.”

Sir Graham says he’s looking forward to working with HPSNZ, high performance coaches and national sports organisations.

“It’s crucial for coaches to be effective leaders, so hopefully sharing the knowledge gained from my coaching experiences will help New Zealand’s coaches provide the leadership and coaching their athletes need,” Sir Graham says.

Baumann, who recently started in his new role as Chief Executive, says coaching is the top priority for HPSNZ and he’s very pleased to have Sir Graham as part of the coaching team.

“If you have the best coaches in the world, then your athletes have a much better chance of performing at the highest level. Coaching is all about the athlete, and the right coaching is about making sure coaches deliver what’s needed to maximise success for that athlete or team.

“HPSNZ is prioritising resources for the development, recruitment and retention of high performance coaches, because we believe the quality of our coaching can be an area where New Zealand stands out against the rest of the world.”

01 March 2012

extra funding for Australian Olympic athletes

Minister announces extra Green and Gold funding injection@ASC

Minister for Sport Mark Arbib today announced a further $640,000 to targeted Olympic and Paralympic sports in the lead up to the London Games.

Senator Arbib said the injection was part of the Green and Gold Project which has now allocated almost $4.5 million in additional funding to assist Olympic and Paralympic athletes to succeed in London.

“With less than six months to go, the Australian Government is investing in the nation’s top performers to turn potential fourth, fifth and sixth places into medals and bronze and silver medals into gold,” Senator Arbib said.

“We are committed to giving our best sportspeople the necessary support to deliver in London and continue our proud success in Olympic and Paralympic sport.

“The Australian Government, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) are providing a solid platform to give our athletes every opportunity to succeed on the world stage.”

AOC President John Coates AC welcomed the announcement of more funding.

“Our athletes will derive enormous benefit from this funding as their preparation for London 2012 enters a crucial stage,” Mr Coates said.

“Ultimately the Federal Government is providing this funding in an attempt to get kids off the couch and out playing sport. To do that the kids need role models and the Olympic Games provides those role models.”

APC President Greg Hartung was also very pleased by the announcement of further funding.

“Australia has a proud history of success at the Paralympic Games, having finished in the top five at every Games since Atlanta in 1996,” Mr Hartung said.

“Since Beijing in 2008, more and more countries have increased their investment into Paralympic sport and in London we’re likely to see a tough battle for every medal.

“Only a few medals will make the difference between Australia finishing fifth on the medal tally or outside the top 10 and this additional funding will help close that gap and convert silver and bronze medals to gold and fourth and fifth places into medals.

“The Team that will represent Australia in London will be best prepared ever. Full credit goes to our athletes and their extended support base along with their coaches and managers.

“None of this is possible without the co-operation of the Australian Government.”

Senator Arbib said the Australian Institute of Sport was working with sports, athletes and the national institute network to ensure athletes were prepared.

“We have world renowned experts in Australia in the fields of coaching, sports science and sports medicine and they are absolutely committed to getting our athletes on the podium,” Senator Arbib said.

“With this in mind we are harnessing the skills of our best and brightest people to maximise our chances in London through the Green and Gold project.

“In addition we opened the AIS European Training Centre (ETC) in Varese Italy last year to provide a 'home away from home' for Australian athletes, many of whom will use the ETC as a base to launch their bid for victory in London.”

The Australian Government is a strong supporter of both high performance and participation in sport announcing record funding levels in late 2010.

24 February 2012

launch of Singapore Sports Medicine Network


Singapore, 23 February 2012 - As part of the 19 recommendations spelt out under Vision 2030 last week, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI), under the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), has mapped out its first five-year plan that will provide seamless and holistic support for national athletes.

2 The SSI has identified three strategies. They are:
High performance sports framework
Building strong internal core capabilities and
Harnessing science & technology.

High Performance Sports Framework

3 The SSI will build a "team around a team" where it continues to develop its capability in all areas of high performance care and management of national athletes and coaches. The SSI has outlined eight key areas to ensure that athletes receive holistic Sports Science and Medicine support (SSM) and have a seamless pathway to evolve from amateur to elite athletes, and into retirement.

4 These areas are:
Developing long term training plans for athletes
Creating a seamless pathway for transition from youth to national athlete
Integrated delivery of SSM disciplines
Institutionalising a national sports medicine network (Singapore Sports Medicine Network)
Establishing comprehensive athlete life planning support
Inculcating sporting values and principles in athletes
Encouraging sports leadership development
Creating a master coach development system.

5 For a start, the SSI will collaborate with Changi General Hospital (CGH), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) to create the Singapore Sports Medicine Network (SSMN). Launched today, the SSMN - the first in Asia for such a network for national athletes - will create a decentralised system to provide sports medicine services for Team Singapore athletes beginning 23 February 2012.

6 Speaking at the launch of the SSMN this afternoon, Mr Lim Teck Yin, CEO of the SSC said, "The Singapore Sports Medicine Network is a crucial partnership that brings together all the sports medicine resources and the know-how to care for Team Singapore, and will further enhance the pace of development of sports medicine and extend our reach to a wider sporting community."

7 Currently, about 1,000 national athletes receive their medical clearance and consultations, and physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatments at the SSI that is located at the SSC's headquarters, with some athletes required to visit the SSI as many as five times a week. With the SSMN, Team Singapore athletes who are located far away from the SSI can choose to continue receiving their medical treatment after their first consultation at the SSI, at the nearest SSMN partner hospital - CGH (East), KTPH (North) and TTSH (Central).

8 This will allow the athletes to streamline their treatment, training and personal schedule to an optimum. Lim Sheng Yu, a full time basketball player with the Slingers who visits the SSI about three times a week welcomes the change. He said, "It takes me more than an hour to travel from my home in Woodlands to the SSI, and it is especially hard as our recovery sessions are usually early in the morning the day after a game. It would be great if I could go to KTPH for physiotherapy session as it will not just help me save more than 60% of travel time, but also give me more flexibility in managing my time."

9 To set in motion the leveling up of the sports medicine capabilities in public hospitals in the area of sports injury management for elite athletes, the SSI will put in place the standard of care and service that all partners have to abide by. This will ensure a uniform framework of operation across the network.

Building Strong Internal Core Capabilities

10 To support national athletes effectively, the SSI needs to have a ready pool of proficient SSM specialists in areas such as physiotherapy, nutrition, biomechanics, exercise physiology, sports psychology and nutrition among others. As the SSI seeks to build this pool of experts in the next 10 to 15 years, its immediate five-year plan is to leverage on external expertise and develop schemes to attract, develop and retain talent for the long term.

11 Some of the initiatives the SSI will be implementing include the setting up of several advisory boards and committees to guide the Institute's development, as well as the introduction of several scholarships, training awards, fellowships and exchange programmes to ensure that the Institute is staffed with the brightest SSM minds.

Harnessing Science and Technology

12 With SSI's core capabilities and delivery system in place, the Institute?s winning edge for the athletes will be its ability to intelligently exploit and apply science and technology (S&T) to its systems and processes. Although the SSI currently has S&T initiatives in place, it could benefit from a dedicated programme that will seed and drive sports S&T initiatives.

13 One of the strategies is to promote sports related research not only in SSI, but also in institutions of higher learning and research institutions in Singapore. This will be done through a dedicated research grant to promote SSM research to support our athletes and the local sports industry.

14 Overall, the SSI's efforts in the next five years will lay the foundation for the institute's long term development. It is during this critical period that the SSI will develop the fundamental frameworks and culture that will support the growth of not just SSM in Singapore, but also sporting excellence and Singapore's sports culture as a whole. The SSI aims to give every sports talent in Singapore a chance to realise their potential through its programmes.

13 February 2012

new sports policy in Singapore


Singapore, 13 February 2012 - After seven months of consultation with some 2500 people from the public, private and people sectors, the Vision 2030 Committee released its preliminary recommendations on how sport can be a key strategy to serve Singapore. The recommendations call for more opportunities and access for Singaporeans to play more sports in school, the community and the workplace. Sports capabilities will also be enhanced to support the anticipated growth in quantity and quality of sports programmes.

2 The Vision 2030 Committee is now seeking further input from the Public-Private-People sectors to review the 19 preliminary recommendations resulting from more than 300 ideas generated through the engagement process. Over the next three months, the committee will continue to engage all segments of society to finalise the recommendations on how sport can be used as a national strategy.

3 Revealing the preliminary recommendations, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mr. Chan Chun Sing said, "In meeting and talking with people, the consensus became clear. Sport can be a national strategy to shape our future, whether we are promoting physical, mental and psychological wellbeing; creating strong leaders with drive and confidence; developing a winning spirit; or uniting us as a nation. It provides many practical, teachable moments."

4 Based on face-to-face discussions with more than 500 people and comments from 2000 unique users on vision2030.sg, the Vision 2030 Committee took a targeted approach to tackle fundamental challenges faced in school, the community and the workplace. The Committee believes the recommendations will improve access for all to quality sports programming. This will begin the process of change that will eventually see Singapore reaping the full benefits of sports.

5 Acting Minister Chan added, "It may take some years to feel the full impact of these changes. It is critical that we lay the foundation now with the end goal in mind - to live better through sports. Through the opportunities created under V2030, we hope people will participate actively in sport, and in the process, become happier individuals, stronger leaders, more active community contributors or proud citizens."

6 The 19 preliminary recommendations have been categorised under Opportunities, Access and Capabilities (Please see Annex B for details).


7 'Opportunities' looks at increasing and sustaining engagement in sport so that people can experience the value of sport throughout their lives. Said Singapore Sports Council's Chief Executive Officer Lim Teck Yin, "Everyone we met spoke of the power of sport to improve lives, and they wanted more opportunities to play sport. Parents, in particular, told us that they wanted more opportunities for children and youth to play more sport in schools. They believe it will help them stay healthy and learn valuable lessons that will make them better persons and more prepared for the workforce and life."

8 A key recommendation to provide more opportunities for sports participation, particularly in schools, is the proposed 'Sports Pathways Committee' to better coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders to strengthen and align sports pathways (i.e. participation opportunities & development). The Ministry of Education (MOE) welcomes the proposal to form this committee, which will better coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders to strengthen and align sports pathways.

9 The initial phase will focus on youth sports development but will consider other aspects of the participation pathway in the post-school years further downstream. The committee will comprise members from Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), MOE, Singapore Armed Forces, People's Association, National Trades Union Congress, tertiary institutions, Singapore Sports School and the Singapore Sports Council.

10 The committee will ensure alignment of sports pathways from the primary school level to the tertiary and post-National Service period by coordinating measures to encourage sports participation, capability development of sports professionals, integrated programme delivery, competition frameworks and facilities development.

11 The committee will also work to increase parental involvement in the school sports scene. The committee will create opportunities for families to participate in programmes and events together, for example those organised by the 'Super Sports Clubs' (see details on Super Sports Clubs below - paragraph 15). Sports families will be able to cheer and support each other on and off the field, through a variety of shared experiences.

12 In preliminary discussions on school sports, MOE has indicated that by the end of secondary school, every child should have learnt to play at least three core sports at the recreational level and have opportunities to continue participating in sports within the community.

13 Through the Physical Education (PE) and Sports programme, MOE will systematically develop the values of sportsmanship and teamwork in students.

14 MOE's long-term plan is to increase the number of hours for PE in schools. A significant amount of PE time will be dedicated towards laying the foundation for learning and playing core sports in the syllabus. This effort will be complemented by intra-school sports competitions to enhance the learning experience.

15 The Vision 2030 Committee also proposes the formation of regional 'Super Sports Clubs' to extend the reach of sports programming. The Super Sports Clubs will be a home base for individuals, families and the community to gather, train and compete in a range of sports, and get together for social or business purposes. The Clubs will provide affordable community-relevant programming and coaching with opportunities for all skill levels and age groups, including fundamental movement skills for young children and modified sports for seniors. Moreover, the Super Sports Clubs will make it possible for the community itself to drive the creation of programming and events. The community can enjoy spontaneous play, compete in league-based competitions or host one-off sporting events.

16 MOE welcomes the concept of the 'Super Sports Clubs' as a platform to augment its own plans. It will consider awarding LEAPS points (formerly known as CCA points) for participation in the 'Super Sports Clubs', as part of its LEAPS Scheme review. The Clubs will also work with schools to enhance opportunities at recreational competitions and lifelong sports participation in the community.

17 The pilot concept for the Super Sports Clubs will be implemented towards the end of 2012. The public are invited to log on to vision2030.sg to vote on the sports they would like to see piloted in the inaugural year.

18 "The Super Sports Clubs will create opportunities for more sports participation beyond the school years. They will provide access to a wide network of affordable, well-designed facilities with quality sports programming. People will also be able to use the Super Sports Clubs as a place for family sports activities, corporate team building and corporate leagues," said Mr Leslie Tan, Future Ready subcommittee co-chair.

19 As a means to encourage working adults to increase and sustain their engagement in sports, the Vision 2030 Committee proposes that SSC work with Corporate Singapore to see companies expand their involvement in sport. The concepts include:
Leveraging on sport for leadership development and learning
A competitive corporate Sports League
Customised sporting solutions for companies to develop employee loyalty programmes
Appropriate incentives and recognition for companies that support Sporting Singapore


20 Access is about taking a more inclusive approach towards providing sports facilities for the community as well as capitalising on the power of sport for social activism.

21 The Vision 2030 Committee suggests that SSC consider the following in formulating a 'Sports Facilities Master Plan':

Masterplan a good mix and density of sports facilities across Singapore, with the regional facilities as the nucleus for the Super Sports Clubs. The regional facilities would be supported by a network of school and community facilities to cater to the sporting needs of residents
Work with MOE to expand the number and types of Dual Use Facilities to maximise public access e.g. open air basketball, tennis and volleyball courts.
Determine opportunities for co-location with People's Association and other government agencies
Explore the innovative use of space for sports with planning agencies such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing & Development Board and National Parks Board
Enhance SSC sports facilities through the use of universal design principles to provide better access for the elderly, people with disabilities and people with small children

22 The Committee also recommends a 'SportCares Movement' to use sport to inculcate stronger social values among Singaporeans and to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable segments of our society. The committee is studying the possibility of setting up a foundation to anchor the 'SportCares Movement'.

23 "SportCares will provide an opportunity for Corporate and Sporting Singapore to recognise the diversity of our society - by extending a helping hand to all, to ensure that no one is left behind. As a nation, Singapore has been built by many hands. If Singapore is to thrive in the coming decades, we must provide everyone, regardless of race, religion or status, with every possible opportunity to succeed. Sport can be a powerful vehicle to transform lives," said Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, Spirit of Singapore subcommittee co-chair.

24 Added SSC CEO Lim Teck Yin, "Many people do not realise the power of sport to help those who are marginalised. In many countries around the world, sport is used as a powerful vehicle to transform lives - for example, helping former drug addicts or delinquent youth to rebuild their confidence and assimilate back to society through the values and experiences taught through team sports."


25 A key recommendation calls for the establishment of a 'Coaching Academy' to lead the professional development of coaches and the coaching sector in Singapore. The Academy would include mentoring opportunities for coaches and speciality training in working with youth, adults and seniors to meet the growing demand from individuals, schools, sports clubs, national sports associations and corporates. An international advisory panel is expected to be formed to help chart the direction and development of the Academy.

26 These coaches will range from instructors for learn-to-play classes to participation coaches for youth to high-performance coaches for national teams. The Academy will serve as a 'Gold Standard' and establish coaching as a viable and sustainable career choice for Singaporeans.

27 "With the anticipated increase in sports activities, demand for quality coaches in a variety of sports and programmes will go up. The Coaching Academy will be a key vehicle to help us provide quality professional development and mentoring for our coaches. This is an excellent opportunity to develop the local coaching industry into a viable career option. Qualified coaches from the academy would be trained not only in technical but also soft skills to inculcate the core values of sport, helping to spread the positive message of a healthy, vibrant sporting Singapore," said Mr Tan Wearn Haw, Balance to the Rhythm of an Urban Lifestyle subcommittee co-chair.

28 Another key recommendation is a review of the elite athlete support system through the 'Singapore Sports Institute'. The modern athlete is under ever-higher expectations to deliver in environments of increasing difficulty. A centralised institute under SSC, SSI will support our national athletes in achieving break-through performances on the international stage. It will provide systematic and tailored athlete services in sports science and medicine, coaching and education, rights management and career development. We are currently reviewing the way the SSI functions and will be making some recommendations to further enhance the SSI. More details will be announced soon.

Public views on the recommendations

29 "Vision 2030 is an ongoing conversation and we hope that people will give us feedback and help us fine-tune the preliminary recommendations," concluded Acting Minister Chan. These recommendations will be available at www.vision2030.sg for public feedback from now till 15 May. Please refer to Annex B for the full list of preliminary recommendations.