Olympic View: How Team USA used VR

At the Rio Olympic Games there were no fewer than 307 gold medals up for grabs. Team USA claimed an incredible 46 of them, topping the medal table with 19 more golds than the nearest challenger, Great Britain.

For Mounir Zok, the Director of Technology and Innovation for the US Olympic Committee, there is no hesitation when asked what lay the foundations for the nation’s sporting success last summer. “We got 121 Olympic medals in Rio and we know for a fact that we would not have been able to get that number without the strategic technological and innovation component across all sports.”

Zok highlights medals in both boxing and track cycling as just two examples of where the use of technology directly helped Team USA end up on the podium. The build up to the games saw American athletes implement VR technology to prepare for competition, but not directly through their physical training sessions. “We used virtual reality so that our sports psychologists could work effectively with our athletes.

“They always ask the athletes to imagine themselves in scenarios that would provoke certain emotions that the psychologist is after.

“We empowered these individuals with VR tools so that athletes can be immersed in the environment to create the desired emotions.”

Going on the evidence last summer it clearly paid off and Zok was very positive on the impact VR had for athletes. “This has radically changed the way that we work with our athletes and psychologists.

“We saw the outcome of this in the games. If you watch the US athletes across the sports they are focused on task and never lost track of what they are doing.

“This is directly the result of the work by the psychologists alongside the use of VR technology.”

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