Forget steroids or human growth hormone, the U.S. Olympic Committee has turned to BMW for a performance enhancing leap. Sports scientists from the organization recently reached out to engineers from the German automobile manufacturer for help designing a new piece of technology to help athletes improve in the long jump.
Nobody has been able to come close to breaking the long jump record (29 feet, 4 1/2 inches) set by American Mike Powell at the 1991 IAAF World Athletic Championships in Tokyo.
The Olympics have been handing out long jump medals since the first modern games were held in 1896, and the competition goes all the way back to the ancient Olympics.
But now, BMW designers have brainstormed to create a rapid-fire camera and digital processing system which assists competitors in preparing for the long jump. The Wall Street Journal reports the high tech gadget records an athlete's velocity as he or she moves down the runway, and based on this data, athletes are instantaneously able to make adjustments as they practice. The system gives a jumper's horizontal and vertical velocity as he or she leaps from the board.
Researchers from BMW are actually developing a similar camera to help with a lane-detection system in cars using open-source robotics.
The Wall Street Journal points out the transfer of an athlete's running speed on the runway into vertical velocity as he leaps off the board is what determines the actual distance of a long jump.
"People say, 'It's jumping, not rocket science,'" said Melvin Ramey, a biomechanist who works with USA Track & Field and a professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis. "Well, no. It actually is rocket science."
We will have to wait for the London Games this summer to see if American long jumpers benefit from the help of BMW's rocket science.
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