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Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Michael Morlock and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

Performance in bobsled and luge events is influenced by several environmental, material/equipment, and team-related factors. This study concentrated on the influences of equipment and athlete on overall performance and compared the luge, 2-man bobsled, and 4-man bobsled competitions at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games. Start time and overall acceleration in the analyzed straight section showed significant correlations with the final time. It was concluded that for the top teams in bobsled and luge, fast start time and high speed at the end of the start section were prerequisites for an excellent overall performance. Driving capacities in the most difficult sections of the track were more statistically important among the top 15 competitors, especially in the luge. The influence of the runners could not be identified in either bobsled or luge competitions.

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Jos J. de Koning, Gert de Groot and Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau

Mechanical characteristics of the sprint start in speed skating were measured during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. From three-dimensional film analysis of the first 4 seconds of the male and female 500-m races, biomechanical variables were determined. The first strokes during the start appeared to be performed by a running-like technique. At a forward velocity of approximately 4 m/sec, the skaters are forced to change this technique to the typical gliding technique as used during speed skating at steady speed. In explaining the time differences on the first 100 meters of the 500-m speed skating race, the effectiveness of the push-off appears to be more important than the observed high power output levels.

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Laura Capranica, Maria Francesca Piacentini, Shona Halson, Kathryn H. Myburgh, Etsuko Ogasawara and Mindy Millard-Stafford

Sport is recognized as playing a relevant societal role to promote education, health, intercultural dialogue, and the individual development, regardless of an individual’s gender, race, age, ability, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. Yet, it was not until the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London that every country’s delegation included a female competitor. The gender gap in sport, although closing, remains, due to biological differences affecting performance, but it is also influenced by reduced opportunity and sociopolitical factors that influence full female participation across a range of sports around the world. Until the cultural environment is equitable, scientific discussion related to physiological differences using methods that examine progression in male and female world-record performances is limited. This commentary is intended to provide a forum to discuss issues underlying gender differences in sport performance from a global perspective and acknowledge the influence of cultural and sociopolitical factors that continue to ultimately affect female performance.

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Ruud W. de Boer and Kim L. Nilsen

The mechanics of speed skating the curves is described in a mathematical model, using the sideward push-off characteristics of the propulsion and the cyclic nature of the movement. Theoretical and experimental relations between mechanical work per stroke, stroke frequency, and speed were studied with Olympic speed skaters. High-speed film and video measurements collected at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary provided the basic experimental data. Because of the ideal external conditions (indoor Olympic Oval) and the large numbers of optimally prepared specialists participating, unique scientific results on technical aspects of speed skating could be obtained. Statistical analysis and theoretical considerations showed that stroke frequency can be judged as the major regulator of speed. Unexpectedly, it was not possible to detect changes in speed within one lap.

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Dennis Dreiskaemper, Bernd Strauss, Norbert Hagemann and Dirk Büsch

Hill and Barton (2005) showed that fighters in tae kwon do, boxing, and wrestling who wore red jerseys during the 2004 Olympic Games won more often than those wearing blue jerseys. Regarding these results, this study investigated the effects of jersey color during a combat situation on fighters’ physical parameters of strength and heart rate. An artificial, experimental combat situation was created in which the color of sport attire was assigned randomly. Fourteen pairs of male athletes matched for weight, height, and age had to fight each other: once in a red jersey and once in a blue. Heart rate (before, during, and after the fight) and strength (before the fight) were tested wearing the blue and the red jerseys. Participants wearing red jerseys had significantly higher heart rates and significantly higher pre-contest values on the strength test. Results showed that participants’ body functions are influenced by wearing red equipment.

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Gert-Peter Brüggemann, Phillip J. Cheetham, Yilmaz Alp and Diamantis Arampatzis

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, 70 dismounts and release-regrasp movements on the high bar were selected from films gathered with three synchronized cameras during the compulsory and the optional men's high bar competition. The skills were classified into 10 groups depending on the direction of rotation, body configuration, and flight projection. Kinematic variables were used to profile the movement groups. Statistically significant differences between the groups were identified by ANOVA. Three groups with significant differences in terms of the maximum values and the locations of the maxima could be differentiated. These were (a) backward rotating swings with an increase of rotation (e.g., overgrip giant swing—triple backward tuck somersault dismount), (b) backward rotating swings with a change of the direction of rotation (e.g., overgrip giant—Tkatchov straddle), and (c) forward rotating swings with an increase or a decrease of rotation (e.g., undergrip giant swing—Jaeger somersault).

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Michael M. Morlock and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

The performance in bobsledding is influenced by several factors. This study concentrated on influences of the environment and the bobsled crew on the final time of a bobsled run. The analysis was performed with data collected during the four-man competition at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. It was shown that the start order, the ice temperature, and the push time together explain about 50% of the variance in the performance (α=0.05). It is suggested that the existing rule concerning the start order in a heat be modified to guarantee a fair competition. Selected speed and turn time variables were shown to give an indication of the characteristics and the important sections of the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park. It is speculated that the optimization of turn times is more important than the increase in speed in a turn.

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Yoshiaki Takei

The purpose of this study was to identify the mechanical factors that are crucial to successful performance of blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout in the handspring and salto forward tucked vault. A 16-mm camera operating at 100 Hz was used to record the performances. The subjects were 51 male gymnasts participating in the 1988 Olympic Games. It was hypothesized that some mechanical factors identified in the model were significantly correlated with successful performance of blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout as rated by the judges. Significant correlations indicated that a large horizontal velocity at touchdown on horse is an important prerequisite for effective blocking and subsequent performance of postflight. The results also indicated that the body’s moment of inertia should be minimized by assuming the full tuck position just before or near the peak of flight, which maximizes the time and height available for executing the kickout in midair. The small angular speed of body rotation due to early kickout and the long-held extended body position as it travels a large horizontal distance are not only effective in the expression of artistic amplitude for virtuosity points but are also crucial for control in landing.

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Jaakko Kaprio and Seppo Sarna

Occupational disability was investigated in former Finnish athletes in the Olympic Games, World or European championships, or intercountry competitions during 1920–1965 (N = 2,402 men) for eight selected sports. The referents were 1,712 men selected from the Finnish conscription register, matched on age and area of residence and classified as completely healthy. The first outcome measure was the length of working life based on the age when the subject was granted a disability pension, or age at death before age 65. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of mean working life expectancy was 61.4 years for endurance sport athletes, 60.0 years for team games athletes, and 59.2 years for power sport competitors, compared with 57.6 years for the reference group. Decreased coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular and respiratory morbidity were observed for all athletes when compared with the referent group. It was concluded that sustained and vigorous physical activity during early adulthood may extend the occupationally active life span and defer the onset of disability before retirement age.

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Naoki Kikuchi, Dai Ueda, Seok-ki Min, Koichi Nakazato and Shoji Igawa


To examine the relationship between ACTN3 polymorphisms and level of athletic performance in Japanese wrestlers.


The control group consisted of 243 healthy Japanese individuals. The authors divided 135 wrestlers into 3 groups based on their results in national or international competitions. They classified as elite 24 wrestlers who had placed in the top 8 in a world championship or participated in Olympic games, 28 wrestlers who had participated in world championships or become champions in Japan’s national championships were classified as subelite, and 83 wrestlers were classified as national (N-W, ie, national-level wrestler). In addition, the authors combined the elite and subelite to form the classification international-level wrestlers (I-W).


The frequency of the null X allele and the XX genotype were significantly lower in the I-W group than in the control group. However, there was no significant difference in ACTN3 genotype or allele frequency between the N-W and control groups. The frequency of the ACTN3 XX genotype in the elite groups was lower than that of all groups, and a linear tendency was observed between ACTN3 XX genotype and athletic status.


In conclusion, the data indicated that ACTN3 polymorphisms were related to athletic performance in Japanese wrestlers.