A 360 virtual environment featuring key venues at this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been created at the University of Hull to help propel Team GB’s athletes to Olympic gold.
The University created the platform for Team GB to help improve performance of athletes by preparing them, ahead of the Games, for the environment in which they will train, live and perform in Tokyo, including areas of the Performance lodge such as the lounge and dining area, physio space, performance gym, technical gym and entrance area.
The aim is for Team GB athletes to be able to know what to expect from venues and how to use them best to support wellbeing and performance.
There will be 376 Team GB athletes, as well as key performance staff members, who will have access to the software to help to experience the environment in Tokyo ahead of the Games in just under four days time.
Team GB’s most successful Olympic gymnast, Max Whitlock, who has two gold and three bronze medals to his name heads into his third Olympic Games in Tokyo. He says this technology will help those athletes who may be going to their first Olympics and feeling anxious about heading into new environments.
“If you have never been to an Olympics before you don’t know what these environments are like,” he said.
“There could be a lot of athletes who are very young and very inexperienced in some areas and may feel anxious about going into different environments – if they are in that position, they can have a look at this, get that experience and actually feel like once they step through those doors they know where everything is, and that’s quite cool. It could help people keep a lot calmer and feel a lot more at ease when they go around the different environments.”
Whitlock made history at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games when he won Great Britain’s first medal in the all-around event for 108 years, before becoming the first British gold medallist in artistic gymnastics with victory in the floor and pommel horse events.
He says it is crucial athletes are able to quickly adapt and feel comfortable in their new environment.
He said: “What we are aiming for is for it to feel familiar when we get out there. That’s a very important thing, especially for me. Travelling away I find hard anyway – I’m someone who likes being at home, so to know before you are going out there you can have a look, you know what you are walking in to, you can feel comfortable in your environment and feel like you have been there already.”
The technology was created by students, in conjunction with University of Hull company Lampada.
Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hull, said: “This has been a fantastic project to have been involved in. We are extremely proud of our partnership with Team GB and the opportunities it is affording both our students and staff, and this is another great example of that.
To have been involved in helping the Team GB athletes ahead of what is certain to be a very different Games for them, is something we take huge pride in.
“We wish each and every one of the athletes the very best of luck out in Tokyo and look forward to cheering their success.”
Following a trip to Tokyo, where images were taken of specific venues, students began creating computer models which would form the basis of the immersive environment.
A team from Lampada, a University of Hull digital solutions company, worked to deliver the content.
Tim Ellerton, Commercial Director from Team GB, said: “We are really proud to work with the University of Hull to deliver innovative projects which have a direct impact on our athlete performance. Thank you to showing such commitment to our team.’
Since completion, the technology has become part of the athlete education programme, designed to get athletes games ready.
Athletes also had the chance to use the technology at the Team GB Kitting Out event where they were given cardboard VR headsets to use with their phones to view the environments.
Since it was announced in January 2019, the University’s partnership with Team GB has provided a diverse range of opportunities for staff and students – many of which go beyond a sports focus.
The 360 event is the latest of these opportunities. Other recent activities have included the I Am Team GB Festival of Sport and ‘Give It A Go’ event, which saw Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle on campus launching the I Am Team GB Festival of Sport.
Other activities include an ongoing research project exploring British Olympic Champions of the past – the aim is to inspire current Team GB athletes to achieve success by connecting them to their athletic heritage – as well as a series of Team GB appearances where athletes have shared their personal goal-setting and medal-winning experiences with students.
Additional highlights include a marketing challenge for first-year Business School students, a family sports event for local schools and colleges, competitive internships opportunities for students and the opportunity to volunteer at Team GB ‘Kitting Out’ events.
The University’s partnership with Team GB includes the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The partnership is borne out of a synergy between the University’s ambitions and beliefs, and those of Team GB.