Using Science to Reach the Top in Elite Sport
The Research Institute for Olympic Sports KIHU has engaged in research to benefit Finnish
sports since 1991 and is now the leading center for applied sports research in Finland. The small size of our country has introduced its own share of challenges to our success, but that which cannot be acquired through quantity, can be made up by inventiveness and creativity. Along the way, KIHU has produced several sports-related inventions from alpine huts to javelin cannons and carried out important research regarding the healthcare of athletes.
Central Finland, which is remote from an international perspective, has proved to be an excelled home base for KIHU. The city of Jyväskylä has provided the research center with functional premises and the robust knowledge base of a university town. The University of Jyväskylä has in fact been one of KIHU’s most significant partners throughout its history. Know-how is at the core of the research center’s success and more than a third of its employees hold a doctorate.
Currently, new short-term solutions are created with an ever-increasing pace in the exercise industry. KIHU acts as a quality controller and Sports Lab, which operates under KIHU in Jyväskylä, engages in product testing, among other things, to provide unbiased information through scientific methods.
It is the research center’s mission to act as an intermediary between theory and practice to ensure that the results of the research performed with athletes on the field is put directly into practice. For example, KIHU’s research regarding javelin throw has, in part, lifted Finnish javelin throwers to the top, leading to Olympic medals, world championships, and record throws.
Firstbeat Technologies Oy is a great example of the practical application of science. The company was
established in 2002 as a spin-off company of KIHU, based on heart rate variability research performed in
the 1990s. Nowadays, the company’s technology is utilized in applications used by millions of people
around the world.
In the future, the research center will take an even more active role in sports advocacy. High-quality
research is used to resolve challenges regarding both the exercise habits of young people and the training
of world-class athletes. Due to the international networking of the research center, Finnish sports and
coaching are known for their high level of expertise on the global scale.
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