Rocket technology helped launch a golden race for Chinese Olympic athletes.
China was at the top of the Tokyo 2020 medal table with 36 golds and 79 overall, and according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the contenders got some super technical assistance on their way to Tokyo.
This led to China winning three gold, one silver and one bronze medals in the swimming pool, an improvement over the 2016 Games, in which the swimming team won one gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
Using “Space Measurement Products”, six world champions, including women’s gold medal winner Zhang Yufei and women’s 4x200m freestyle relay gold medal winner, have improved their techniques for the 2020 Games not just in the pool or gym.
Sessions in wind tunnels in government laboratories overseen by CASC scientists, who also built a compact version of the missile guidance system to collect data on the athletes’ posture, were crucial to their success.
“By analyzing the data, they helped athletes scientifically formulate training programs and provided scientific support to improve performance,” CASC said in a Weibo post.
“The system can obtain sports information such as the athletes’ position, speed, position, angular velocity, acceleration, etc. during training.”
In the women’s quadruple rowing race, the Chinese team won the gold and set a unused world record – beating the previous best time set by Germany in 2014 by more than a second.
They have perfected their performance sitting in a metal tube, monitored by trainers and scientists in facilities normally used to test the aerodynamics of aircraft and missiles.
The sports commission said the wind tunnel helps Olympic athletes triumph gold.
“The Low Speed Wind Tunnel Lab…successfully developed a 3D force measurement platform to study the aerodynamic force of distinct athletes and the effect of distinct modulation groups on aerodynamic resistance.”
CASC said setting up the wind tunnel for the rowing team was complicated and firm.
“The test requires simulating real competition conditions, the water surface needs to be simulated in a wind tunnel, and the aerodynamic force is measured only overhead the water surface,” the CASC said.
Climb the summit with courage and triumph glory for the homeland
China has closely linked the country’s economic and social development to improving success in competitive sports.
Since 1949, it has embarked on a four-stage plan for the development of the sport.
It started with a shove to “ensure local development and catch up with competitive sports,” according to an official document issued in 2019 by the General Administration of Sports of China.
The document stated that “the main task of competitive sports was to ‘courage to the top and triumph glory for the country… to train distinguished athletes for the country’.”
When the People’s Republic of China, better known as China, rejoined the IOC in 1979 following a dispute over Taiwan’s legitimacy in the IOC, the second phase began, focusing on “steady development”.
Sports management and training were refined during this phase, which lasted until the “rapid breakthrough phase,” the third phase that would persevere Chinese athletes until the country hosts the Games.
“At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, we achieved the goal of ranking first in the world in gold and medals, improved the overall strength of competitive sports, formed a pleasing international image, and made a historic leap in the international competitiveness of competitive sports,” the documents said.
The year following the Beijing Olympics, China moved to the fourth stage, which was about the “phase of transformation, upgrading and all-round development”.
Under this part of the program, missile technology has come into force.
“Competitive sports in China has become an significant force in the international sports arena,” the document said.
The government document also claims that the reforms changed the way sports performances were viewed in China.
“Competitive sport has gradually changed from the political value of mainly serving the country’s advancement to the human value of meeting social needs,” the statement said.
“Pray and get out”
Dr. Jeff Dixon, director of the Center for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe University, told ABC that China came from the uncivilized and transformed into a sports superpower in just two decades.
Aside from using its scientists to improve performance, China has also spent years on a policy, which translates as a “call in and out,” under which the development systems of leading sporting nations have been closely studied.
It started in the beforetime 2000s – in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics – and was also about sending elite athletes abroad to train under advanced practice coaches.
“While they’re doing this, they’re obviously writing a vast number of notes and learning how to do things,” said Dr. Dixon.
To build their system for training world-class swimmers, China went to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia to see which methods worked in those countries in the pool.
Having quickly realized that the British were not far ahead of them, China turned to the United States and Australia.
The lofty-performance systems in the United States centered around universities and it was firm to enroll Chinese athletes as students, which was a requirement to train under the name of the top US coaches employed by various universities.
In the end, Australia proved useful, and under the policy, previous Grant Hackett coach, Dennis Cotterell, was hired to coach disgraced Chinese Olympian Sun Yang.
In 2011, Yang beat the world record in the 1500-meter freestyle in Hackett and became one of the greatest swimmers of all time, with American Michael Phelps winning more titles and medals.
More than just exercise
Dr. Dixon said participation and success in elite sports competitions in China extended to the political sphere as well.
“Sport serves as a means of proving that what matters is the nation and that people should be somewhat submissive, or should be very comfortable sacrificing their interests for the benefit of the state,” he told ABC.
“Elite athletes are a distinguished way, or at fewest in China’s eyes, a powerful way to demonstrate that considerate of commitment to the nation.”
The systems behind China’s thriving Olympic teams now are not very distinct from what we have here.
“There are some things in the Chinese sports system that we wouldn’t realize were at fewest somewhat similar to what we have in the Australian system,” said Dr. Dixon.
These similarities also extend to the political aspect of competitive elite sport.
“Just as the Australian government discovered sport as a political tool in the beforetime 1970s, it wasn’t lengthy following that China also embraced it,” said Dr. Dixon.
On top of the time and public money spent on developing the sport, China has another advantage.
Its vast population.
“Somewhere in between, you will have people who have the physiological, biological, biomechanical and psychological qualities necessary to be elite athletes,” Dr. Dixon said.
In the end, all the spending, study, technology and development led to what the Chinese government calls “the development path of sports with Chinese characteristics”.
And a lot of gold medals.