Bryan Clay Joins BMW Performance Team

With one year to go until the London Games, 2008 Olympic champion Bryan Clay got a boost in his preparations Wednesday with the announcement that he is one of 10 athletes named to BMW‘s Performance Team.

By Eileen Blass, USA TODAY

Fencers Jeff Spear (left) and Tim Morehouse teach spectators about the sport during a fencing exhibition on a terrace at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City on Tuesday. They were taking part in a one-year-out program to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Darren Liccardo, a senior technology engineer for BMW, says the stereo-vision technology that the company tests in its automobile safety systems can be applied to sport. So far, the company has begun working with track and field athletes.

“We want to take the analysis to the next level to provide real-time feedback,” Liccardo said.

“We use computer vision algorithms,” Liccardo said. “We take the video data from the system and do specific analysis in a very intelligent way.”

For Clay, who competes in 10 track and field events as a decathlete, the expertise can help him fine-tune his technique, he says. For example, in his javelin training, BMW’s analysis can tell Clay and his coach precisely how fast his arm is moving and how fast the javelin is leaving his hand. He’s benefited from video analysis in the past, but that process could take overnight.

“Real-time data is hugely important for someone like me,” Clay said. “For an athlete who’s a little older, I get to train smarter.”

Other U.S. Olympians named to the team include sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and swimmer Natalie Coughlin, who has won 11 Olympic medals. Others include Ricky Berens (swimming), Matt Chrabrot (triathlon), Janet Evans (swimming), April Holmes (Paralympic track and field), Jonathan Horton (gymnastics), Clay Johnson (sailing) and Mallory Weggemann (Paralympic swimming).