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J Exerc Rehabil > Volume 12(4);2016 > Article
Jee: The science behind the Olympic glory
Although the World wars and Cold war lead to cancellations and large boycotts of the Olympic Games in the 1900s, and various negative issues have hindered the Games throughout the years, the Olympic Games have been consistently bringing the world together every four years since 1896. Two hundred forty-one athletes from 14 nations competed in nine sports, a total of 10 disciplines and 43 events in the first Olympics. Now in the 2016 Summer Olympics, more than 11 thousand athletes from 206 nations have registered to compete in 28 sports, a total of 41 disciplines and 306 events. The Olympic became focus of the worldwide audience and the pride of many nations. In order to win, “faster, higher, stronger” became the motto of the modern Olympic Games. At some point, “trying the best” became just one of the factors in competing in the Olympics: science became one of the must ingredients in preparing for the Olympics games. In order to get that one hundredth of a second, meter, or gram, scientists with specific expertise came together to analyze, develop, and improve human movements.
Biomechanics or sporting techniques were analyzed as early as 1900 Olympics. Athletes sought advices of sports dietitians to maximized performance. Engineers and inventors developed and improved technology associated with the Olympics through emerging technology. Experts also sought to comprehend the optimal psychological states to offer the performance state of mind.
Prioritizing faster, higher, and stronger results lead to greater chances for traumatic injury during training and games. About 10% athletes competing for the Olympics report injuries in the areas such as thigh, knee, and lower leg and one third of the reported injuries have been caused by athlete to athlete contact, overuse, and athlete’s own movements. Half of the athletes on the average cannot train or compete in the Olympics due to injury. There may be intrinsic reasons for the Olympian injury and absolute avoidance may not be easy to achieve. Although physical safety is constantly emphasized to the athletes during training, prioritized winning over safety becomes an occurrence, not a choice.
Importance of athlete safety is becoming more and more prominent and structured requirements for injury prevention are being aggressively sought by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Systematic injury and illness surveillance monitoring and high-risk sports identification is being applied to address injury prevention. IOC assembled an expert group for preparticipation health evaluation to recommend practical Periodic Health Examination 7 yr ago, in March, 2009. Such recent focus for athletic safety should not be limited to IOC. Safety and injury prevention based training has become one of the standards for athletic training for many countries and facilities.
Injury prevention is a significant segment of the Olympic science. Methods for safety and injury prevention have many perspectives to consider, yet, proper guidance is limited. In order to provide proper framework for injury prevention guideline, step-by-step research guideline should be first considered to achieve applicable safety guideline. Three of the major factors for injury prevention should include guideline for proper training, performance, and rehabilitation. Evidence-based scientific evidences should be analyzed with athlete values and trainer, performance, and rehabilitation experts with scientific and experience perspectives. Analyzed results should further be tested with intervention developed based on expert consultation and athletic values. Intervention should not be limited to either theory or experience. Both the theory and experience should be concurrently tested and debated with different perspectives and scientific backgrounds with and not limited to pedagogy, education, psychology, welfare, and experimental and clinical exercise rehabilitation. Injury perspectives should not be limited to acute injuries and rehabilitation. Long-term effects of training and performance should be considered and applied to the guideline. Regardless of the athletic status or type of competition, safety and health should now be prioritized over the performing results. Time has changed and scientific perspectives should also evolve to consider multidisciplinary factors.
The world intensively watched and had sleepless nights cheering for favorable results from the thirty first Olympics in Rio. Although the movements by the Olympians seemed spontaneous, incredible amount of calculative and empirical science touched upon each and every repetitive movement made by the athletes. However, risking health and safety of the athletes over the results has long been a debatable issue since the first Olympics in Athena. It may be a natural process of he Olympic science to weigh comparatively more on the health and safety aspects of the athletes.

Notes

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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