Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Engineering the champions

Olympic athlete Helen Clitheroe has been helping a team from UCLan to look at the science behind sporting success.

The Preston-born star was a called on by a group of UCLan researchers showcasing their work at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition 2013.

The team were investigating the relationship between competitive conditions and body movement, and invited Helen to demonstrate their work.

One of the projects identifies the ways in which champions can be engineered, proving that in high-stake plays, athletes consciously consider skilled movement. In low pressure situations, movements are completed almost automatically.

By using the Xsens Motion Capture Suit, which uses a system of sensors built into a suit to 
create a high level 3D image of the exact movements of the 
wearer, studies revealed that critical adjustments in movement made by athletes can mean the difference between gold and silver.

Howie Carson, a UCLan PhD student, who worked on the study along with Professor Dave Collins and Professor Jim Richards, said: "We wanted to study the human mechanics of sport and how athletes can refine their skills and concentrate their efforts where it really counts. We hope this study shows that in sport, it really is a case of made not born."

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