Technology was at the forefront of China's strong presence at the Olympics Games in Tokyo, as artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies played a significant role in helping the country's athletes in training and improving their performance.

PONGBOT, an AI-enabled table tennis robot, has become a popular training apparatus at the national training base for table tennis players, making high quality shots and never running out of energy.

The robot can also adjust the speed and spin of the ball according to a player's level of aptitude. Through big data it can gather and analyze the trajectory and movement of different athletes and simulate competitors movements to help them in training.

''The AI robot no doubt replaces some of the work for coaches, especially when we have to take care of several tables during training,'' said Chen Bin, deputy dean of the China Table Tennis College and coach of the retired table tennis world champion Ding Ning.

Pingbot, co-developed by China Table Tennis College and Siasun Robot and Automation Co., is believed by many industry insiders to be the world's first AI ball pitching robot.

''More importantly, it can also imitate the course of different players that human training partners usually find hard, for instance that of the Japanese player Ito Mima,'' Chen said. ''With this we can offer more targeted training to our athletes.''

In sports including volleyball, running, swimming and rowing weightlifting, many of the country's athletes have adopted high-tech training methods.

China's 14th Five-Year Plan [2021-25] highlighted the important role of technologies in driving the digitalization of key areas including sports.

A paper published by the State Council on the high-quality development of sports said the country will accelerate the application of smart manufacturing, big data and AI in sports.

Quan Hongchan, 14, a gold-medal winning diver at the Tokyo Games, saod on her Weibo account that behind her success was not only her own efforts, but also the three dimensional AI training system of the national diving team.

The advanced system developed by the Internet company Baidu Inc., restructures the three-dimensional body postures of divers when they stand at the springboard. This information is sent to the coaches in real time.

The China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology also helped six world swimming champions by using precision measurements during the preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.

Its waterproof measurement device weighs only about half an ounce and can gather data on a swimmer's posture, breathing and stroke frequency within a second, as well as turning times and other technical metrics.


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