Gymnasts limber up for the next Olympic Games with online video analysis site

Britain's Olympic gymnastics contenders are to get a video-enabled Web site to add a high-tech edge to training

Britain's Olympic gymnastics team are to get broadband Internet connections and a video-enabled Web site in a programme designed to streamline training.

As part of the programme, launched in partnership with Thus, the British Gymnastics Website will get a makeover to include features such as video recordings of training sessions. The video system, based on Dartfish technology, will be accessible to coaches, medical support teams and parents as well as to the team's 240 gymnasts.

Other new site features include chat rooms for gymnasts and coaches and an e-commerce component for viewing and buying equipment.

Thus is providing gymnasts with email accounts, and will provide a 2Mbps leased-line connection for coaches, who are based at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall, Shropshire.

The British gymnastics team is in training for the Olympic games in Athens 2004 and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

The new site's video-on-demand service has been customised for sports training, according to Dan Hardie, methodologist and sports science coordinator at British Gymnastics. "It is a specialised form of e-learning because you are dealing with performance sport," he said. "It is not like being at school and accessing information on a Web site. If a coach deems it necessary to record a performance, perhaps in the gym, it is associated with a performer's file, so the performer, coach, parents and support staff can access the file through the database."

Hardie said the support of Thus also had an important psychological benefit for the team: "It gives the gymnasts an air of confidence. It is a big thing for them. They are proud of that."

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