Leeds Beckett academics lead biggest ever athletics biomechanics research project
The aim of the project is to support athletes and coaches in optimisation and improvement of their training and competition performance.
Leeds Beckett’s Dr Athanassios Bissas, a leading researcher and international expert on issues related to biomechanics of sports performance, will lead a team of 40 people from the University’s Carnegie School of Sport.
Deploying a selection of 40 cameras – comprising 25 high-speed cameras and 15 HD camcorders – a total of 17 events will be covered, most of which will have full biomechanical analysis. A team of analysts will work overnight to ensure quick turnaround of the results.
Lead researcher Dr Athanassios Bissas in the Carnegie School of Sport said: “Securing this project with IAAF is a very exciting chapter for the Biomechanics subject area within the Carnegie School of Sport. Whilst being extremely excited with this news, as we will be capturing data of athletes such as Usain Bolt, Mo Farrah and many, many more of the world of athletics, it is equally a significant responsibility due to the scope of the project and its global impact.
“This project will firmly place the Biomechanics team here at Leeds Beckett as world-leading researchers on the map. We successfully secured the bid which was seen as outstanding by the IAAF as noted on their web site by confirming that this is the first time such a significant project will be undertaken by a single provider.
"This success is a true testament to the expertise and skills possessed by the academics and learning support officers within the biomechanics team and I would like to emphasise that it is their hard work and professional approach which made this achievement possible. Furthermore, this project would not be possible without the participation and support from colleagues and students across the School of Sport, they are pivotal to this project. In closing I would like to thank the Dean of the Carnegie School of Sport, Peter Mackreth, for his continued support and strategic investment which has enabled us to undertake such a large scaled project.”
Introduced by the IAAF in 1987 as a service to its member federations, several biomechanics research projects have been carried out at past major championships. But the project set to take place in London this year will be bigger and more in-depth than any that has gone before.
Full biomechanical analysis will be conducted for all finalists in the following events: 100m, 200m, 400m, 10,000m, marathon, 3000m steeplechase, 100m/110m hurdles, 4x100m, high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus, hammer and javelin.
Leeds Beckett University MSc Sport and Exercise Biomechanics Masters student, Josh Walker said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to get real life experience outside the lab, collecting real data in the field.
“This is the first time I’ve ever done anything as high profile as this, I’m really lucky to be part of the project and am looking forward to collecting the data and the whole experience. I’ll certainly acquire a lot of new skills, collecting biomechanical data in the field is not something you often get at university.
“I’ve just been accepted on to a PhD course at the University so I’ll be here for three more years and the skills I will acquire throughout this experience will transfer into applied work and academia as well.”
In the sprinting events, the video footage will be analysed to produce 3D biomechanical data of variables such as stride length, stride frequency, ground contact times, joint angles and velocities and other important biomechanical variables.
The analysis of the distance events will include changes in fatigue in the 10,000m, foot-strike patterns in the marathon, and water jump hurdling technique in the steeplechase.
The throws analysis will focus on velocities at various stages of the throw, release angles, release height, segmental coordination and other key variables.
Meanwhile, analysis of jumping events will look at take-off characteristics such as angles and velocities, approach kinematics, various calculations of each phase in the triple jump, lean angles in the high jump, and approach velocity in the pole vault.
Key initial data will be made available at the IAAF World Coaches Conference on the mornings of 7, 8, 9 and 10 August.