Stress often gets the better of athletes at the Olympics. In sports like archery and shooting, where one requires a lot of focus, it becomes a major factor.
Often coaches and players talk about maintaining a normal heart rate at the time of shooting. These are aspects that the average fan can’t feel or factor in when he/she is consuming the sport.
But, thanks to an innovation by World Archery, heart rates of players have been shown live on TV during the elimination rounds of archery of the upcoming Tokyo Games at the Yumenoshima Park.
This has been among the many firsts that the sport witnessed during the Games beginning on Friday.
Cameras on the field of play measure the heart rate of the athletes remotely, relaying reliable data to the production crew and producing graphics to visualise the stress archers face during competition.
Call it good or bad but the archers would not get to see the data as it would be only for the consumption of TV spectators.
And it has thrown up some interesting readings that help the audiences understand how much stress an athlete goes through during competition.
According to World Archery, South Korea’s Oh Jin Hyek had the lowest heart rates of any archer to begin the first round encounters in Men’s Individual event on Thursday. However, he recorded a highest heart rate of 143 beats per minute during the shootoff against Atanu Das which he eventually lost.
On Wednesday, India’s Deepika Kumari who won a see-saw battle against Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez saw her heart steadily rise as she came through the rounds. It was at around a calm 75 beats per minute during her game against Bhutan’s Karma but rose to as high as 180 against Mucino-Fernandez.
“Obviously, I’m nervous. The pressure at the Olympics is at a different level as you put in years of effort to win a medal here. It’s a battle with yourself and I’m trying to win against myself here,” Deepika told Indian reporters in Tokyo.
“We want to give the spectator on television the feeling of stress,” said World Archery secretary general Tom Dielen earlier this week in Japan.
He added: “When you watch on-site, you can feel the stress to a certain extent. But watching on television, you see a target, you might think it’s easy and you can’t feel the stress of the athlete that has to shoot a 10 to win gold.”
World Archery had conducted trials for the heart-rate monitoring privately.
It will be even more interesting to note how heart rates fluctuate for players as medal rounds begin come Friday. While it’s a good indicator of the players’ emotions during the game, it gives great insight to the TV viewers.
(With PTI inputs)