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Jan Bourgois, Adelheid Steyaert and Jan Boone

Purpose:

In this case study, a world-class rower was followed over a period of 15 y in which he evolved from junior to professional athlete.

Methods:

An incremental exercise test and a 2000-m ergometer test were performed each year in the peak period of the season starting at the age of 16 y. In addition, the training logs of 1 y each as a junior and a senior rower were recorded and analyzed.

Results:

Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), maximal power output (Pmax), and power output at 4 mmol/L blood lactate concentration increased until the age of 27 and then stabilized at 30 y at 6.0 ± 0.2 L/min, 536 ± 15 W, and 404 ± 22 W, respectively. At the age of 27–28 y the rower also had a career-best 2000-m ergometer test (5′58″) and on-water performance with a 4th place at the Olympic Games (2008) in Beijing and World Championships (2009). At the age of 23 y, the rower trained a total of 6091 km in 48 wk. Of the total training time, 15.4% consisted of general training practices, 23.4% resistance training, and 61.2% specific rowing training.

Conclusion:

The on-water performance in the World Championships and Olympic Games corresponded closely to the evolution in the rower’s physiological profile and 2000-m ergometer performance. The long-term build-up program resulted in an increase in the physiological parameters up to the age of 27 y and resulted in a 4th position at the 2008 Olympic Games at a body mass of only 86 kg.

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Jos J. de Koning

The quality of performance during international competitions such as the Olympic Games and various world championships is often judged by the number of world records attained. The simple fact that world records continue to improve is evidence that sports performance is progressing. Does this also mean that athletes are improving? Is the continual progression of world-record performances evidence that contemporary athletes are superior to the athletes who performed in the past? Technological developments may obscure insight into the athletic enhancement made by athletes over the years. This commentary tries to separate technological and athletic enhancement in the progression of world records by the use of a power balance model.

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Olivier Hue

The tropical climate is unique in that the seasons are dominated by the movement of the tropical rain belt, resulting in dry and wet seasons rather than the four-season pattern of changes in temperature and day length seen in other parts of the world. More than 33% of the world population lives in the humid tropics, which are characterized by consistently high monthly temperatures and rainfall that exceeds evapotranspiration for most days of the year. Both the 2014 Football World Cup (in Brazil) and the 2016 Olympic Games (in Rio de Janeiro) will take place in this climate. This review focuses on the effects of the tropical environment on human exercise performance, with a special emphasis on prolonged aerobic exercise, such as swimming, cycling, and running. Some of the data were collected in Guadeloupe, the French West Indies Island where all the French teams will be training for the 2016 Olympic Games. We will first fully define the tropical climate and its effects on performance in these sports. Then we will discuss the types of adaptation that help to enhance performance in this climate, as well as the issues concerning the prescription of adequate training loads. We will conclude with some perspectives for future research.

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Emerson Franchini, Monica Y. Takito, Rodrigo M. da Silva, Seihati A. Shiroma, Lance Wicks and Ursula F. Julio

Purpose:

To determine the optimal interval between competitions for success in the different events of the judo world tour.

Methods:

A total of 20,916 female and 29,900 male competition participations in the judo world-tour competitions held between January 2009 and December 2015 were analyzed, considering the dependent variable, winning a medal, and the independent variables, levels of competition.

Results:

There was an increased probability of winning a medal when the interval was in the 10- to 13-wk range for both male and female athletes competing at Grand Prix, Continental-Championship, and World-Championship events, whereas for Grand Slam, only men had an increased probability of winning a medal in this interval range. Furthermore, men had increased probability of podium positions in Continental Championship, World Master, and Olympic Games when the interval was longer than 14 wk.

Conclusion:

Optimal interval period between successive competitions varies according to competition level and sex; shorter intervals (6–9 wk) were better for female athletes competing at the lowest competition level (Continental Open), but for most of the competitions, the 10- to 13-wk interval was detected as optimal for both male and female athletes (Grand Prix, Continental Championship, and World Championship), whereas for the ranking-based qualified male competitions (ie, Masters and Olympic Games), a longer period (>14 wk) is needed.

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Marla K. Beauchamp, Richard H. Harvey and Pierre H. Beauchamp

The present article outlines the development and implementation of a multifaceted psychological skills training program for the Canadian National Short Track Speedskating team over a 3-year period leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. A program approach was used emphasizing a seven-phase model in an effort to enhance sport performance (Thomas, 1990) in which psychological skills training was integrated with biofeedback training to optimize self-regulation for performance on demand and under pressure. The biofeedback training protocols were adapted from general guidelines described by Wilson, Peper, and Moss (2006) who built on the work of DeMichelis (2007) and the “Mind Room” program approach for enhancing athletic performance. The goal of the program was to prepare the athletes for their best performance under the pressure of the Olympic Games. While causation cannot be implied due to the lack of a control group, the team demonstrated success on both team and individual levels.

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David G. Kerwin, Maurice R. Yeadon and Sung-Cheol Lee

An 11-segment three-dimensional simulation model was used to modify the body configurations of eight gymnasts performing multiple somersault dismounts during the Men’s High Bar competition in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Four layout double somersault performances were modified to change a characteristic backward arch to a straight body position. This modification reduced the somersault rotation by 0.03 to 0.10 somersaults. Four tucked triple somersault performances were modified so that the thigh abduction angle was reduced to zero. This modification resulted in underrotations ranging from 0.01 to 0.34 somersaults depending on the amount of thigh abduction in the original movement. The additional angular momentum needed for successful completion of the modified movements was small in general and in no case greater than 13%.

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Maurice R. Yeadon and David G. Kerwin

At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, 18 single somersaults with one twist in the women’s compulsory floor exercises were recorded using two video cameras. An 11 segment computer simulation model was used to analyze the twisting techniques used. It was found mat counter-rotation techniques accounted for less than one third of the twist for all gymnasts, indicating that the production of twist was mainly a consequence of the angular momentum and a non-zero tilt angle. Contributions to the tilt angle reached at the mid-twist position were used as measures of the twisting potential of various techniques. Contact techniques accounted for 30% of the tilt produced, the remainder being produced using aerial techniques, which primarily comprised a symmetrical lowering of the arms together with minor contributions from asymmetrical arm and hip movements. There was no evidence of a difference in technique between the highest and lowest scoring competitors.

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Glenn M. Street and Robert W. Gregory

While the scientific literature has confirmed the importance of high maximal aerobic power to successful cross-country skiing performance, the same cannot be said of skiing technique or gliding characteristics of skis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether glide speed was related to Olympic race performance. Male competitors in the 50-km freestyle event were videotaped during the 1992 Winter Olympic Games. Glide speeds of the entire field were measured through a 20-m flat section at the bottom of a 150-m, 12° downhill. A significant correlation (r = -.73) was found between finish time and glide speed, showing that the more successful competitors tended to have faster glide speeds through this section of the course. A predictive model of glide speed suggested that the faster glide speeds were due primarily to differences in friction. There was little evidence to suggest that differences in air drag, body mass, or initial speed accounted for the major differences in glide speeds.

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Maurice R. Yeadon

At the 1992 Olympic Games six full twisting double somersault dismounts were recorded with two video cameras during the rings individual apparatus finals in the men's Artistic Gymnastics competition. Angles describing body configuration were determined from video data and were input, together with initial orientation angle values and angular momentum components, into a computer simulation model of aerial movement. Mean absolute deviations between simulation and video after the completion of one half twist were 0.01 rev for somersault, 2.8° for tilt, and 0.08 rev for twist. When the estimate of the initial tilt angle was adjusted by up to 1° these deviations fell to 1.6° for tilt and 0.02 rev for twist. All 6 competitors produced the majority of the tilt using aerial techniques that were predominantly asymmetrical movements of the arms. Contributions to the subsequent removal of tilt were determined using reverse simulations, and again arm movements were the main contributors.

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Ruud W. de Boer and Kim L. Nilsen

The 1988 Winter Olympic Games provided a unique opportunity to study large numbers of optimally prepared speed skaters during ideal ice and weather conditions for all the competitors (indoor Olympic Oval in Calgary). In this study a kinematic analysis was conducted of the gliding and push-off technique during the Men’s and Ladies' 1,500-m and 5,000-m races. Statistical analysis showed that factors such as trunk position, preextension knee angle, and peak knee and hip angular velocities failed to correlate with mean lap speed. Within such a homogeneous group of elite athletes it was found that the higher work per stroke of the faster skaters was correlated to a longer gliding phase and a more horizontally directed push-off. All skaters showed plantar flexion at the end of the stroke, which is undesirable and indicates the complex nature of the gliding and push-off technique in speed skating.