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BMW Performance Team

Tamara Warren
July 28, 2011


The 2012 Olympic Games are right around the corner -- and for the athletes involved, these months of training are essential.

World record holder and five-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Janet Evans, Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon Bryan Clay and  2010 USA Triathlon Elite Athlete of the Year Matt Chrabot gathered in New York on Wednesday to talk about how BMW is affecting their training methodology for the 2012 Olympics.

BMW is sponsoring the U.S. Olympic Team. These athletes make up three of the ten members of the BMW Performance Team. An eleventh athlete will be selected by fans. What these athletes share is a common goal -- they are training with hopes of coming home with gold from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

To enhance, what they are doing day in and day out,  BMW engineers are contributing to a quantitative understanding of the athletes’  technique, using stereo-vision technologies to track and measure the velocity of an athlete’s motion with immediate analysis of data. What this means for athletes like Clay are less practice long jumps and more efficient use of precious training time.

I spoke to Chrabot, who was set to board a plane later that evening to contend at the Olympic Trials in London. He was particularly excited about the effect the technology would have on his training, including injury prevention, and the help of information about improving distance portions of his races. “We could actually use it in competition. A lot of other countries have cameras on the side and they’ll track our progress."

The idea of being physically deconstructed on a video screen was no cause for concern for Chrabot. “Once you reach the elite level, you’re poked and prodded on a fairly regular basis. It would be so helpful to know how to conserve more energy,” he said.  “As human beings we can improve somewhere.”

BMW has been working with Phil Cheetham, a senior sport technologist for the United States Olympic Committee, based at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista just south of San Diego, Calif., where the athletes are incorporating the technology.

"We hope we get it to the point where they can be use it for immediate feedback,” said Darren Liccardo, Senior Advanced Technology Engineer, BMW Group Technology Office. "One thing we’re talking about is how best to take the results from this and  show it to coach and athletes when they’re at the field. The default method would be a computer station, but imagine if they could just pull up on an iPad or other mobile device. It keeps them in their mobile training style."

Here’s the entire BMW Performance Team Roster:

Ricky Berens – Swimming, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, 800m freestyle relay

Matt Chrabot – Triathlon, 2010 USA Triathlon Elite Athlete of the Year

Bryan Clay – Track & Field, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, decathlon; 2010 World Indoor Champion, heptathlon

Natalie Coughlin – Swimming, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, backstroke – won six medals in Beijing 2008 Olympics

Janet Evans – Swimming, Five-time Olympic medalist; holds three World Records

April Holmes – Paralympic Track & Field, 2008 Paralympic gold medalist, 100m

Jonathan Horton – Gymnastics, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, team event

Clay Johnson – Sailing,nFirst place, 2011 North American Championship

Sanya Richards-Ross – Track & Field,  2008 Olympic gold medalist, 4x400 relay; 2009 World Outdoor Champion, 400m

Mallory Weggemann – Paralympic Swimming, 2009 USA Swimming Disabled Swimmer of the Year; currently holds 15 World Records