New Olympic research successes

Photo credit: Dr Andrew Callaway

Since the Olympics took place in August, BU has seen two new Olympic research successes – the publication of a new paper into improving archery performance and an award from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to explore how sporting mega events impact on informal sex economies and how this affects potentially vulnerable sex workers.

Improving archery shots

Dr Andrew Callaway, a former GB team archer and Senior Lecturer in Sports Performance Analysis, has recently published a paper exploring the factors that make up an excellent archery shot.

“Despite archery being around, in one form or another, for 65,000 years, we actually know very little about what makes a good shot,” explains Dr Callaway, “Coaches tend to coach from trial and error based knowledge which just takes a long time to develop, and isn’t always scientifically sound. Most of the coaching doctrine suggests that the timing (flow) of the shot is everything. Our focus was to investigate what makes a good shot in terms of the temporal activity.”

“Working with academics from Vienna we broke the shot cycle into phases, from the arrow touching the string, raising the bow, aiming and releasing (and a few others) and looked at their relationships to the arrows distance away from centre.”

“We found that pre- and post-performance routines (psychology), aiming time, speed of the arrow and the percentage variation in ‘Clicker to Release’ time, account for 7.7% of the variation in the arrows distance from centre.  These findings have real implications for archery coaching practices.”

The impact of mega sporting events

Meanwhile, Professor Michael Silk has been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council to work with partners in the UK, Canada and Brazil to explore the implications of mega sporting events on informal sex economies and sex workers.

“Research into Olympic cities and those hosting other mega sporting events tends to focus on national-identity making, media representation and urban regeneration.  There has been much less interest in the relationship between sporting events and the informal economies that spring up around them,” explains Professor Silk.

“Media speculation tends to suggest that there will be a heightened demand for sexual services during sporting events, but in reality policing and other social control measures are often used to disrupt the sex trade and make it less visible to international audiences.”

“Displacing sex workers and moving them even further towards the margins can have all sorts of consequences for safety, criminal control and violence.  In Brazil, the situation is particularly complex as sex work is a recognised legal profession, so marginalisation can leave people in extremely vulnerable situations.  Our study will be the first to explore the real impact of large scale sporting events on sex workers and informal economies.”

Callaway, A., Wiedlack, J. and Heller, M., 2016. Identification of temporal factors related to shot performance for indoor Recurve archery. Journal of Sports Sciences.