Smart approach taken to boost sporting prowess

By CAO CHEN in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-24 08:25
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Su Bingtian (right) and Wu Zhiqiang compete for China in the men's 4x100 meters semifinal relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Aug 5. WANG LILI/XINHUA

Data analysis, advanced devices play crucial role in training

Smarter technology and techniques are being harnessed by China to enable athletes representing the nation to improve their training and boost their strength.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Chinese fencers Wang Zijie, Dong Chao and Lan Minghao finished fourth in the men's team epee competition, equaling the national record.

Guo Li, the team's science coach, said data analysis and advanced devices are having an impact on sports training.

For example, the TRIMP (Training Impulse) algorithm has been used in China since December to train the country's Olympic fencers. The algorithm measures an athlete's heart rate every five seconds to gauge the intensity of training and assess how long an exercise should last. Corresponding data is then analyzed to quantify training load and stress on competitors, and a training schedule is drawn up for the next day.

Training load refers to the impact of training on an athlete. If a coach or athlete does not pay attention to this, a training program may become too stressful or too easy.

Guo, an associate professor of kinesiology at Shanghai University of Sport, said: "Training load in fencing used to be hard to quantify. Coaches often rely on their experience, not fencers' footwork or swordplay, to observe athletes' reactions and assess their physical condition for future training plans.

"Scientific approaches, such as TRIMP and other analytical devices used to quantify an athlete's physical condition, help us and competitors identify strengths and weaknesses. They also solve problems promptly."

Gao Binghong, a member of China's science support team for Tokyo 2020, said the scientific experience of some 100 researchers and experts from the Shanghai university was called on in Japan.

"Scientific assistance 'silently' penetrates training, enabling athletes to acquire tactics, physical discipline and psychological skills for the Olympics," said Gao, dean of the university's School of Physical Education and Training.

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