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A Look at How They Get Those Amazing Olympics Photos

The Associated Press has peeled back the curtain a bit with a terrific explainer on the technology used to capture the images coming out of the Tokyo Olympics.

Since the London Games in 2012, The Associated Press has been using a combination of robotics, ingenuity and creativity to make memorable photos from difficult places. The intricate setup — reconnaissance begins months beforehand and setup takes place many weeks in advance — ensures that the world catches glimpses of Olympians in ways it might otherwise never see.

In the London Olympics, many of the cameras needed a direct physical connection to operate, meaning actual wires running between the devices and the operating controls. They’ve now controlled via network connection remotely from the press center. AP says they could actually be controlled from anywhere in the world, if needed.

AP photojournalist David J. Phillip on how they position the underwater cameras:

We move it after each session. We kind of look ahead to see what’s what’s the next event and what who’s swimming and what lane. And the IOC provides the divers that do that for us now. In the early days, we used to have to jump in and move it ourselves. But now they have somebody that does this. We just basically tell them where we want it and they move it for us. So if there’s any issues, I could bring the camera out and we could make some adjustments. But we didn’t have any issues this year.

One of the more interesting advancements has been for track. They now have the ability to program the cameras to run at a specific speed, and since they know how fast a runner will be racing for each event beforehand, they can dial it in perfectly.

Click over for the full interview and photos here.

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Some athletes at the Tokyo Olympics are crediting (or blaming) Nike’s track shoes for helping to break world records this summer, while some critics have compared the shoe technology to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Athletes have commented on the fast track, while others say the so-called “super spikes” developed by Nike give the brand’s athletes an advantage.

The shoes feature a stiff sole plate and an air pocket under the ball of the foot, as well as using a new kind of foam which is softer, returns more energy and is very lightweight, said Geoff Burns, a sports scientist at the University of Michigan.

“That combination has been really transformative,” Burns told CNN on Friday.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm set a new world record in the men’s 400 meter hurdles while wearing Puma shoes, and despite taking the gold, still criticized Nike’s shoe technology.

While there is no data on the effects of the spikes in shorter races, 400 meter champion Warholm criticized the Nike shoes worn by rival Rai Benjamin and raised concerns about their potential impact on the sport.

“He had his things in between his shoes, which I hate by the way,” said Warholm, who wears Puma spikes that have been developed with the help of racing car manufacturer Mercedes.

“If you want cushioning, you can put a mattress there, but if you put a trampoline there, I think it’s bullsh*t and I think it takes credibility away from our sport,” said Warholm.

There’s some more info on the Nike shoe here.

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The Packers are set to unveil this year’s throwback uniform later this month.

Packers president Mark Murphy said the team will unveil the new jerseys on Thursday, Aug. 19.

“The throwback and alternate jersey have become very popular with our fans (and our players love playing in them), and they help highlight our tremendous history,” Murphy wrote in his monthly column at

Little is known about the jersey, although Murphy did say it has a shade of green, and the look is expected to be inspired by a previous championship team from the franchise’s long history.

The Packers did not wear an alternate throwback uniform during the 2020 season. Between 2015 and 2019, the team wore a navy blue and gold throwback uniform inspired by teams from the 1940s. A variation of the look from the 1930s could be possible if the team is using a shade of green.

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New awards decals have popped up on Michigan’s helmets for fall camp.

Since it’s introduction in 1938, Michigan’s winged helmet design has undergone several transformations that have largely remained true to the original.  The most significant change occurred in 1969 with the arrival of former head coach Bo Schembechler.  The man who would become the most revered head coach in Michigan Football history was ultimately responsible for the maize, football-shaped award decals that still appear on the helmets today.

While the award decals typically feature the profile image of a Wolverine, highlights from the first two days of fall camp have shown several other images now appearing on the award decals.

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Look away, Nats fans.

• • • • •

Here’s a peek at BYU’s helmet decals and striping being applied.

Comments (9)

    I’ve been able to follow SF photographer Jeff Cable who has been working for US Water Polo but has provided some very cool shots of other sports as well. He has provided alot of background info on his daily blog as well. Well worth checking him out!

    The question regarding the Nike track shoes is kind of interesting, at least in the sense that there is a very subjective gray area between athletes using equipment that allows them to maximize their performance and using stuff that gives what you might call an artificial or unfair advantage. Similar to the question of why some substances that an athlete can take to enhance performance are okay while others are considered “PED’s”.

    Been hearing a lot about those controversial shoes, I still don’t understand how they’re allowed if they help that much. Doesn’t make much sense.

    Sounds a lot like the swimsuits a few years ago. If the shoes improve too much more, there will have to be regulations on how much assistance they can provide

    “New awards decals have popped up on Michigan’s helmets for fall camp.”

    I didn’t realize that teams that went 2-4 the previous season were given awards decals.

    I heard an NPR story about the track surface/material being a big factor in the record breaking as well. It didn’t mention the shoes,

    Guy wins gold but criticizes Nike shoes worn by rival. Meanwhile, Puma will most likely copy Nike’s “enhancements”, as will all other manufactures. Athletes will find something else to gripe about.

    If the championship team is the inspiration and the color is green that narrows down the possibilities substantially with the Packers. So unless it’s something from the 1960s which isn’t all that different from today then we are left with one previous season to choose from: 1936. That would be an interesting look if it indeed is the one. 85th anniversary of that team so that is an additional point in favor of that year.

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