Virtual Reality Redefines Olympics


Virtual Reality Headset created a trend in visualization training in the top ranks of elite Olympic athletes like Gwen Jorgensen. In the near future, we can expect the VR technology will take a major role in the road to champions and medals, no matter it is a good thing or not.

As the US's first ever winner in triathlon gold, who is relatively new to cycling and only finished 38th in London Olympic in 2012, Gwen Jorgensen's secret training tool isn't her $10,000 road bike, but is her mind. “I use mental visualization to pre-pare for races,” says Jorgensen. So Jorgen-sen spent this summer concentrating, via virtual reality, on the muddy streets of Rio's neighborhood.

Rio is well known as a very tough bike course, but with visualization training, she can drive the entire bike course months before Olympic starts and capture it in 360 degrees. Even more, she can replay the entire bike route, or some short clips of isolated sections that she can study in detail. In other words, she can drive the bike course as many times as she wants before she comes to Rio, which something not every player can do. However, learning the bike course perfectly is not the only benefit of visualization training.

From visualization training, Jorgensen also gains muscle-memory knowledge. By having muscle-memory knowledge, Jorgensen can game out her responses from her challengers by experiencing anything that could potentially happen on race day with having the least risk from getting injured.

It also helps her to build confidence and make calm judgments, since she can figure things out with the VR headset, such as look through coming corners, then she can decide when to hammer down or lay back a bit. It just sounds like she has been racing on the Rio Bike course for a thousand times. We can foresee Olympic athletes who have hungered to be champions for years, will be thinking of getting the same set of VR gear for their visualization training, which might be that shortcut on the road to gold medals.

But remember, the purpose of the Olympic games is to promote unity within the international community through fair-play and sportsmanship. Yet, when considering the application of cutting-edge technology in future Olympics, the question on having such advantages affect fairness amongst athletes becomes unavoidable.

(Photo Credits: Tejvan Pettinger)

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