Abigail Klein Leichman
January 10, 2019

Hoping to produce more Olympic medalists in the future, the Israel Olympic Committee and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology recently launched the Israeli Olympic Sports Research Center.

“The joint establishment of the center will position Israel in an advantageous position over our competitors in world sports with regard to scientific knowledge and technology,” said Olympic Committee Chairman Yigal Carmi.

“The fields of biomechanics, motion analysis and technological development are areas of application that will now receive special attention so the performance of our athletes can be improved. The Olympic Committee of Israel welcomes and acknowledges this strategic cooperation with Technion, which involves the fusion of brilliant scientific minds for the benefit of Israeli Olympic sports.”

The Technion’s Prof. Alon Wolf with judoka Yael Arad, Israel’s first and only silver Olympic medalist, at the new Israeli Olympics Research Center. Photo courtesy of Technion Spokesman’s Office

The center’s first project, “The Mechanical Signature of Olympic Surfboard Fins,” relates to surfer/surfboard compatibility. Gur Steinberg, coach for the Israeli windsurfing team, explained that the differences in fins on certain models of surfboards can affect athletic performance.

The study conducted at Technion’s Material Mechanics Center Faculty of Mechanical Engineering aims to differentiate accurately among the various fins and adapt them optimally to each surfer.

“Very often we see that a fraction of a second or a few centimeters determine whether a competitor will win a gold medal,” said Prof. Alon Wolf, head of the Technion’s Laboratory for Bio-Robotics and Biomechanics. “This kind of advantage is the result of scientific understanding and its implementation in training and equipment.”

The Israeli Olympic Sports Research Center was initiated following a seminar at the Technion for Olympic coaches and in recognition of the need for an extensive and in-depth research on various aspects of sports.

Judokas Yael Arad (silver) and Oren Smadja (bronze) won Israel’s first Olympic medals in 1992. Since then, six additional Israelis won bronze medals in sailing, canoeing and judo. Sailboarder Gal Fridman is the only Israeli to win a gold medal so far, which he did at the 2004 Athens Summer Games.

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