A Hartpury University team of PhD students and sports scientists have been crowned international research champions, winning Hartpury thousands of pounds of state-of-the-art sensors and software in the process.
Celeste Wilkins and Isabeau Deckers, both PhD candidates, and sports scientist and staff member Amelia Dingley overcame a 280-strong field to win the inaugural Xsens Biomechanics Challenge, a global biomechanics competition for universities.
The team from Hartpury – the only university from the UK to reach the final – was a collaboration between the university’s Sport and Equine departments.
The three-week competition invited students and researchers interested in motion capture technology and biomechanics to develop a real-world issue faced by physiotherapists on a daily basis: how to calculate and monitor power in athletes.
The team combined their knowledge of biomechanics, computer coding, physiotherapy and velocity-based training to produce an athlete report.
The report, which the team presented to a panel of judges, profiled an athlete’s power during barbell squat, bench press, ball throws and kicks.
First prize was a range of products designed by Xsens, an innovator in 3D motion tracking technology – a 17-sensor full body MVN Awinda starter set, an Awinda station and an MVN Analyze pro licence for six months for Hartpury University.
Celeste, Isabeau and Amelia’s winning project will enable athletes and their coaches to rapidly understand and interpret biomechanics data, to support performance and aid injury prevention.
Celeste said: “Our goal in research and applied practice has always been to help athletes understand how they can achieve their best performance.
“This technology will be a big asset to our Human and Equestrian Performance centres, allowing us to expand our analysis capabilities outside of our labs onto the pitch or equestrian arena.”
Isabeau said: “It has been such a great experience to participate in the Xsens Biomechanics Challenge, and even more to have been selected as the winning team. I am so excited about our future research projects with the kit that we’ve won.”
Amelia is employed as a sports scientist, a role that includes looking after Hartpury’s state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, within Hartpury University’s Sport department.
“We’ll be able to integrate this technology into our research and practical sessions, enabling students to visualise human movement and bring theory concepts to life,” she said.
Postgraduate students at Hartpury University, which offers a range of research and taught degrees, as well as PhDs, have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories to support their studies.
Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor of Hartpury University, said: “Many congratulations to Celeste, Isabeau and Amelia on overcoming strong competition from around the world to win the Xsens Biomechanics Challenge.
“They’ve done themselves and the Hartpury family proud, not only in taking first place but in winning a range of state-of-the-art sensors and software that will benefit current and future students.”
Picture: Amelia Dingley (inset) and (left to right) Isabeau Deckers and Celeste Wilkins