Olympians Hunting for a Couple of feet in Amherst

Article. Olympians Hunting for a Couple of feet in Amherst

They are hoping they found the 24 inches in Amherst during the weekend.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Published on Saturday, December 2, 1978 by Milton Cole
APAS; Biomechanics; Discus; Favorite; Golf; Media; Olympics; Performance Analysis; Science; Shoes; Shotput; Sports; Tennis;

26 Doily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, Moss., Fri., Dec. 1, 1978

Olympians hunting for


AMHERST – Mac Wilkins and Al Fuerbach are looking for 2 feet to reclainr two world track records for the United ‘~ States.

They are hoping they found the 24 inches in Amherst during the weekend.

Olympic gold medalist Wilkins, and former medalist Fuerbach were at Computerized Biomechanical Analysis in Amherst Friday through Sunday, viewing films, and taking measurements.

All the statistics were fed into CBA computers to enable the Olympic athletes to find ways of improving their forms and their distances for international competition this year and next and for the Olympics in Moscow in 1980.

He improved distance

Wilkins, a University of Oregon graduate, knows of the value of CBA and the biomechanical analyses the Amherst firm does to find the optimum output for muscles and the human body.

With help from CBA and from biomechanical analysis he was able to improve his distance in throwing the discus from 219 feet 1 inch in 1975 to a world record of 232 feet 6 inches in 1976 when he won the Olympic gold medal at Montreal.

Since then an East German, Wolfgang Schmidt has taken the world record with a throw of 233 feet 5 inches. The 6-foot4, 240-pound, 28-year-old Wilkins is trying to get the record back.

“I feel that I can throw the discus at least 240 feet, and that’s what I am hoping the visit here will help me do.” Dr. Gideon Ariel, former University of Massachusetts

F aduate student and assistant track coach, is president of BA. And he chimed in Saturday with the comment: “Two hundred and fifty feet. You can throw it 250 feet.”

Settle for 240 feet

The tall, almost slender-appearing Wilkins smiled, and


“All right, 250 feet, but I’ll be satisfied right now to get to

240. “

Biomechanical analysis helped show him that his form in throwing the discus was not correct, with his arm extended improperly and needing a different takeoff.

“Primarily it showed me that I was not stopping properly. In throwing you have to generate force in your arm to propel the discus, but you also have to be able to stop properly so that the act of stopping puts more force into pushing the discus.

“I thought I was throwing properly, and this showed me how to do it better.”

So Wilkins is hoping that he can pick up the 11 inches or so needed to surpass Schmidt, and perhaps get up to 240 feet for the Moscow games which would keep the discus gold in the U.S.

Fuerbach also is looking for help, but never had been ex-‘ posed to biomechanical analysis before, and said he was looking forward to it.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Kansan, now living in California, held the world record for throwing the 16-pound shotput, 71 feet 7 inches. But along came another East German, Udat Bayer, and he threw the steel ball 72 feet 6 inches for the world record.

ALMOST THE FORGOTTEN MAN won Olympic champion discus thrower Mac Wilkins. He Is simulating a throw while the camera Is recording It for a computer analysis of his form. But the camera crew from Nova *clones magazine Is concentrating on filming. Dr. Gideon Ariel as he film Wilkins. It all happened In Amherst last weekend. (Richard Carpenter photo)

a couple of feet in Amherst


Fuerbach, at the Amherst firm along with Wilkins as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s continuing program of preparation for the Moscow games, was hoping that the computers would show him how to get more distance from his throws.

I have more or less developed my form for throwing myself. Frankly high school and even college coaching is not

as good as it might be in many instances. But if the computer shows me ways of improving and getting more distance, then I will be happy to change.’

In addition to viewing films and seeing computer readouts of what their joints and muscles were doing, as shown in the films, the athletes and Dr. Ariel and others worked on changes in their style and form.

Basically what is done is to film the athletes in action. This was done at Squaw Valley in California where the U.S.O.C. has one of two training bases for athletes.

These films were slowed down so that each move by Wilkins and Fuerbach leading into their throwing was charted with an electronic pencil tied into the computer.

Then the computer printed out a line diagram of what each joint and muscle was doing at each segment of their act of throwing.

The perfect throw

Additionally, a readout was given of what the so-called perfect throw should be, on the basis of previous best performances that were pre-programmed into the computer.

Thus the films taken in California, and the films taken this past weekend in Amherst, will show how both Fuerbach and Wilkins can improve, and provide them and their coaches with material for bettering their performances.

Ariel perfected the computer aspect of biomechanics, turning the computer into a major training tool, as part of his doctoral program in sports science at UMass.

It ha7s been used for athletes as well as for formulating better shoes, tennis rackets, golf balls etc.

CBA, Ariel, Dr. Irving Dardik, chairman of the Sports Medicine Committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Dr. Paul Ward of the Chicago Health Clubs, who is a member of the bio-mechanics committee with Ariel, viewed the films and watched the athletes perform.

Already, noted Ariel. who is chairman of the Basic Sciences Committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee, flaws in Fuerbach’s throwing method have been found, and the experts figure that he can be improved, back to a world recordholder.

The two world-class athletes are the first of a number of such Olympic hopefuls who will be getting analysis at CBA in Amherst or at the new CBA center that has been opened in California as part of the health centers Ariel and Dardik are opening in different segments of the nation.

Considering the thousands of feet that Fuerbach and Wilkins have propelled the shotput and discuss through the years, Ariel is confident that they can be helped to find 2 more feet in Amherst that will enable them to regain the world records.

FOLLOWING THROUGH and watching the shot fly is Olympian

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