Tag Archives: advances

London Paralympics 2012: Prosthetics to out-perform able-bodied soon, say experts

Paralympians to out-perform able-bodied soon thanks to prosthetic advances, say experts

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UPDATED:

12:17 GMT, 28 August 2012

Oscar Pistorius made history in when he became the first double-amputee to compete at the Olympics, and despite failing to take a medal, experts believe Paralympians will soon be outperforming their able-bodied counterparts, thanks in part to future developments in prosthetics.

It is claimed the breakthrough made by 'Blade Runner' will spur other disabled athletes to go even further, perhaps using more advanced prosthetics.

'The technology will only improve,' said Bryce Dyer, an engineering design expert focusing on elite sport at Bournemouth University.

History maker: South Africa's Oscar Pistorius competed against able-bodied athletes during the Olympics at London 2012

History maker: South Africa's Oscar Pistorius competed against able-bodied athletes during the Olympics at London 2012

David James of the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, added: 'We're already at the era where prosthetics can outstrip human performance. With the developments being made in things like powered knees and ankle joints, athletes will soon be flying down the track.

'It's possible Paralympic athletes could one day run faster than Usain Bolt.'

The blades currently being used don't give Paralympic runners the same amount of energy able-bodied runners get from their legs – the athletes are powered only by their hamstrings or hip flexor muscles, as opposed to the additional power a regular runner gets from his or her thigh, calf and ankle.

'In the future, you might see nanotube technology that could produce the same structure as in a biological leg and give you the same amount of energy,' said Philippa Oldman, head of manufacturing at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Oldman added that carbon fiber blades like the ones used by Pistorius don't offer any net advantage.

Advances: Stef Reid has six pairs of prosthetic legs used for different activities

Advances: Stef Reid has six pairs of prosthetic legs used for different activities

Still, it's unclear how much these high-tech prostheses will help ordinary people who need artificial limbs. Prosthetics in the Paralympics are the product of thousands of dollars of research and designed for a very specific purpose: improving sports performance. Their benefits may trickle down to the general population, but much of what is showcased at the Paralympics is restricted to elite athletes.

Bruce McLelland, an engineer who has an artificial leg, said the prosthetics used at the Paralympics are 'a world away' from what he uses. McLelland has a normal artificial leg for everyday use and another one for swimming.

He said his legs incorporate some of the design of the running blades, including being made of carbon fiber so they are lightweight while also being strong and flexible.

'The blades are great if you're going to go running, but they would not suit everyday life,' he said. 'They also don't really fit well into your normal trouser legs,' McLelland said.

In wheelchair sports, some countries including Britain and Japan have partnered with car companies to ensure the wheelchairs will one day be available on the mass market.

To give athletes an edge in sports like wheelchair rugby and basketball, the chairs are now more agile and lightweight, an advantage ordinary wheelchair users could certainly benefit from.

Still, McLelland said his artificial leg, even if it is somewhat outdated, is just fine. 'I'm very happy with it and haven't noticed anything detrimental,' he said. 'But then again, I'm not trying to break any world records.'

Martin Skrtel rejects Manchester City advances

Skrtel rejects Man City advances as defender commits future to Liverpool

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UPDATED:

00:48 GMT, 29 June 2012

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has brushed aside Manchester City's adavnces and insists he is looking forward to the new season at Anfield.

Most recently the Slovakia international has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester City and before that it was Russian big-spenders Anzhi Makhachkala.

However, while Skrtel's agent has previously hinted the player wants to be reassured the club's ambitions meet his own, the 27-year-old said he was optimistic the coming campaign would be better than the last, which brought a first trophy for six years but also saw the side finish eighth.

I'm staying: Despite City;s advances, Skrtel wants to remain at Anfield

I'm staying: Despite City's advances, Skrtel wants to remain at Anfield

'I will be leaving for Liverpool on July 6. I am very excited about new season,' Skrtel told his personal website.

'I hope we will be ready and this time it will be much better than in the last one.

'There is also speculation about my exit from Liverpool but I can say that there was no offer on the table yet and we didn't hold talks with any club.'

Skrtel, Liverpool's player of the year last season, has two years remaining on his contract and new Reds manager Brendan Rodgers is likely to want the centre-back to extend that deal.

Winning streak: Skrtel hopes the coming season will be more successful than the last

Winning streak: Skrtel hopes this season will be more successful than the last

BBC could lose Open Championship, warns Peter Dawson

You could lose The Open! BBC warned they must move with the times or risk losing another crown jewel

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UPDATED:

00:05 GMT, 24 April 2012

The BBC is in danger of losing another of its sporting ‘crown jewels’ after organisers of The Open golf championship fired a warning shot on Monday.

Less than a fortnight after the Grand National was screened by the Beeb for the last time, the ruling Royal and Ancient made clear The Open will follow suit unless the corporation raises its performance — and its offer.

The Open is now the only men’s golf event the BBC broadcasts for all four days. R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said: ‘It is a concern. They have to stay in practice and keep up with the advances in technology in broadcasting.

Warned: The BBC were told to up their game at a Royal & Ancient press conference on Monday

Warned: The BBC were told to up their game at a Royal & Ancient press conference on Monday

'They know we have our eye on them, for sure. They are also well aware they need to come off the financial plateau they are on with regard to The Open at the moment.'

Dawson’s comments will alert not only Sky but possibly ESPN as well. The R&A already have a contract with the American broadcaster to show The Open in the States.

The Open is on the B list of crown jewels, which means a highlights package has to be made available to be shown on terrestrial television. But it is the live rights that are the glittering prize and Sky would pay a fortune if given the chance.

As for keeping up with advances in technology, Dawson will have noted the Masters was shown in 3D on Sky this month.

Strengthening the R&A’s case is the fact the professional game is on a high in the UK, with the world’s top three players all hailing from these shores. Darren Clarke’s Open victory last year was watched by 6.1 million viewers, the highest figure for eight years.

The BBC once covered 24 days of live men's golf a year but that number has now dwindled to just six, comprising The Open and the weekend’s play from the Masters.

Magic moment: Darren Clarke's win at The Open last year was enjoyed by millions watching the BBC

Magic moment: Darren Clarke's win at The Open last year was enjoyed by millions watching the BBC

Dawson also had a dig at the stunt of having former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan conducting interviews at Augusta. 'It did seem a rather unusual choice,' he said.

The BBC’s contract with the R&A
runs until 2016, and they have two time-honoured trump cards: they can
offer the widest possible audience and they have shown The Open for more
than half a century.

But Dawson’s comments send a clear signal they would be making a grave mistake to overplay these.

'Who knows who else will be in the market by then' asked Dawson. 'Maybe ESPN for all I know.'

Jim
McArthur, chairman of the championship committee, said: 'The Open has
been shown on the BBC for 50 years and we’d like that to continue.

'But
we recognise they show a number of sports and their coverage of golf
has dropped dramatically, so we’re keeping an eye on it.'

Enlarge

Tradition: Peter Alliss has been commentating on the BBC for decades

Tradition: Peter Alliss has been commentating on the BBC for decades

The BBC argue they cannot afford live golf any more, so there does not seem much chance of them coming off the financial ‘plateau’ Dawson is talking about.

Only last month it was announced that Sky will now be the only place to watch live play from the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and the Scottish Open in July.

At the Masters, the BBC’s voice of golf Peter Alliss said: 'It’s sad, it’s the end of an era. The racing has gone and Formula One has gone. It’s very hard to compete with someone with seemingly unlimited funds. The BBC can’t compete.'

A BBC spokesperson said: 'The BBC have only recently signed a new deal for The Open golf until 2016. We are completely committed to this event and are looking forward to bringing the Championship to audiences for the next five years.’

Dawson was speaking at the R&A’s traditional press gathering, where his candour on a number of subjects made for a refreshing contrast to the desperate flummoxing of Masters chairman Billy Payne at Augusta.

The alarming increase in the use of
the belly putter and the on-course antics of Tiger Woods were two more
subjects that vexed him.

Having a go: Dawson hit out at Tiger Woods

Having a go: Dawson hit out at Tiger Woods

On
the former, he admitted the R&A had watched with dismay as many
younger players had taken up the belly putter and are looking again to
see if the wretched thing meets all the rules regarding method of
stroke.

That’s the good
news. The bad news is that, even if it doesn’t, it will be 2016 and the
next rules update before action is taken.

As for Woods, Dawson didn’t mince his words when asked about the player’s swearing and spitting.

'There’s no denying it is an unedifying spectacle,' he said.

The
shrill sound of mobile phones will be heard again this year after a
five-year ban following the 2006 edition at Hoylake, when their
continual use drove a number of players to distraction.

This
year’s Open will be staged the week before the Olympics, and the
R&A have been pleasantly surprised it appears to be having no
impact.

Dawson expects up to 200,000 people to make it to Lytham, always one of the most popular venues on the rota.

'We’re in good shape and feel fortunate to be able to say that.'

What a shame the same can’t be said about golf on the BBC.

Memorable: Millions have watched classic sporting moments in years gone by

Memorable: Millions have watched classic sporting moments in years gone by

Player power has damaged football, claims United boss Ferguson

Player power has damaged football, claims United boss Ferguson


Football has changed: Sir Alex Ferguson

Football has changed: Sir Alex Ferguson

ir Alex Ferguson believes the introduction of agents has tipped the balance of power to the modern-day footballer.

The Scot celebrated 25 years in charge of Manchester United last year.

And Ferguson claims the game has suffered as a result of players no longer being tied to their clubs.

'When I first started out in management 37 years ago there were no
agents. Imagine that!,' he told the FIFA website. 'There was no freedom of contract either, so
players were totally tied to their clubs.'

'A change in that sense was
inevitable, though I think that now the scales tipped completely in the
other direction and I’m not sure it’s good for the game.

'Of course the
way the media works has changed too, there’s a lot of pressure on
journalists to publish huge news stories – not just about sport but
about everything – and that’s had an impact on us, no doubt about it.

'In that [the playing] sense, I think the biggest change over the last decade has been
the improvement in playing surfaces. They’re fantastic now and, given
the technological advances in that area, playing on a poor pitch has
become very unusual.

'And the other big change has been in sports
science, which has progressed at an astonishing rate. For example, when I
started out at Manchester United my entire coaching staff consisted of
just eight people, and that included my assistant coaches, fitness
trainers and scouts. Now I’ve got ten sport scientists! It’s a radical
change.'

Ferguson also reflected on his time at United, and the factors that have made him the club's longest-serving manager.

'It has a lot to do with the club. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a more long-term view and change direction towards where I think it should go.

Still going strong: Manchester United continue to thrive under Ferguson

Still going strong: Manchester United continue to thrive under Ferguson

'I can plan two or three years ahead, which is something that doesn’t happen hardly anywhere else. This is a results industry and if a manager loses four or five games in a row then his job is under threat.

'But at United that scenario simply isn’t possible. I’m in charge of all footballing matters, including our scouting network and youth teams. In that sense I’m very fortunate, because I can make quick decisions on who to bring in next to strengthen the squad and where to get them from.'

Having built several successful sides based on exciting young talent, Ferguson is well placed to reflect on the changing nature of the club's transfer policy.

'It has to do with a change in the legislation. A few years ago the requirement was brought in that you could only sign young players that lived within an hour-and-a-half radius of the club’s headquarters. It wasn’t like that before, which was how we were able to sign such fantastic young lads.

All change: Ferguson is unable to bring through young players like David Beckham

All change: Ferguson is unable to bring through young players like David Beckham

'But since it became physically impossible to find six or seven players a year so close by, we decided to change the priorities of our scouting system. As a result, we started to bring in very talented players from abroad and we’ve had success that way.

But it’s true, in terms of developing players from within the club, it’s been a long time since we produced a player of David Beckham’s calibre.

'But the legislation changed again a short while back and it’ll be like it was 15 year ago once more, so I’m very optimistic we’ll be able to get the production line we had in the past going again.'

Despite his advancing years, Ferguson insists he is not ready to retire just yet.

'My philosophy is that, for as long as I’m enjoying my job and I’m in good health, I’m going to carry on here. I don’t think you can set yourself limits, but nor can you plan too far ahead because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

'The time will come [for me to retire], obviously, but right now it’s not something I’m thinking about.'