Bing Yu Provides Recommendations to USA Track & Field Team for 2016 Olympic Games

The Center for Human Movement Science's Bing Yu has provided recommendations to the USA Track & Field Team as they head to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Bing Yu Provides Recommendations to USA Track & Field Team for 2016 Olympic Games click to enlarge Dr. Bing Yu talks with WRAL about his involvement with the USA Track & Field Team.

Bing Yu, a professor in the Division of Physical Therapy at the UNC School of Medicine, will use biomechanics research and technology to train the USA Track & Field team as athletes prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Yu has worked with the national track and field team using biomechanics to improve athletes’ overall performance in the past seven Olympic Games, starting in 1988. Yu is in charge of the performance of discus and javelin athletes.

Yu and a team of other scientists use specialized videotape methods and multiple cameras to reconstruct athletes’ performances as they train and compete. Yu and the research team combine those video images to reconstruct the athlete’s performance and calculate technical parameters, such as the speed, rotation, joint angles, and mechanical parameters. From there, scientists perform biomechanical analytics to find out technical limitations and then make recommendations to the coaches as they prepare the athletes for the Olympic Games.

“As a biomechanist, our major responsibility is to help athletes improve their performance through improving their techniques,” Yu said. “We need to find out what are the problems in their current techniques.”

Biomechanics analysis of human motions can be a useful tool for professional athletes to improve performance; research and large databases of information have advanced the USA Track & Field team over the years. Yu believes the United States is more advanced in terms of using biomechanical methods to optimize techniques and predict athletes’ performances.

For Yu, seeing athletes reach their goals, including bringing home medals, is the most rewarding part of working with Olympians. 

“It’s very rewarding to say that your work is appreciated,” Yu said. “You’re working to help someone. You can see you’ve really improved their performance and helped them realize their dreams.”

Yu credits his time in high school while growing up in Beijing, China, with his love for the biomechanics of sports. While in high school, Yu trained as a discus and javelin thrower.

Additionally, Yu notes, researching the biomechanics of sports has evolved from using film to record athletes’ performances to using more advanced, lightweight cameras. Yu is part of a larger group of nutritionists, physical therapists and athletic trainers who will work with the Olympians. His work is funded through a contract with USA Track & Field. His work is housed in the Department of Allied Health Sciences' Center for Human Movement Science.

Yu traveled to Eugene, Oregon, at the end of June to meet with the Olympic team. In August he will head to Houston, Texas, to assist with the Olympic team’s training camp. Although he will not be going to Rio, he hopes the Olympians will do as well as or better than they did in 2012. Read more about Yu's work from the UNC School of Medicine.

-Mackenzie Hudson, public relations intern for the Department of Allied Health Sciences

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