Marquette University research center; helping Olympic athletes excel

Fulfilling an Olympic dream takes a lot of dedication and a lot of commitment. But the attention to detail could be the X-factor – and that's where Marquette University is stepping in. 

"I think I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning because I couldn’t sleep," said Dr. Kristof Kipp. 

A few hours later, Dr. Kipp was busy working with weightlifters from Team USA at Marquette's Athletic Human Performance Research Center. 

"It’s like a little kid on Christmas morning," Kipp said.

One of his gifts is watching Olympic hopeful and Wisconsin native Mary Theisen-Lappen show off her strength and skills. For Mary, her gifts include working out with her teammates, again.

"It’s nice to see my friends. Like, I don’t see these guys that often because we’re spread out across the country," said Theisen-Lappen.

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"When they come here, they’re with peers that are going through the same stress as them, same calendar as them. So, it’s a really positive thing for them," said Mike Gattone, Team USA Performance Director. 

While it is creating camaraderie, the camp is also giving Gattone unique information because of the system Dr. Kipp has created.

"We’ve seen a lot of data, or we’ve picked up a lot here, is what’s happening on different phases of the lift," Gattone said.

"We take measurements and recordings on force plates, which are like fancy bathroom scales. They’re sunk into the ground and they let us record how much force someone’s pushing with their left and their right leg. And they’ll get an idea how much force they’re producing," Kipp said. "We also record the motion of the barbell they’re lifting. So, it gives us an idea of how well they’re moving the bar through space, how efficient they are in their movement."

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Once Dr. Kipp processes the data, Theisen-Lappen will then get the important feedback to improve her training.

"Just kind of use information we got and maybe change training, maybe add something in, maybe take something out we thought was important and sub something else in that’s more important," Theisen-Lappen said. "So, it’s pretty much right when we get back and we just do it over and over and over and hopefully it gets better over time."

"It’s one thing to have the tools and just record data. But it’s another thing taking that data, interpreting it and communicating that to coaches," Kipp said. 

"We want this to become intrinsic with them. Right now, we’ll talk about it deeply. We’ll look at videos. We’ll look at power points. But whatever we decide, must become natural for them. So, when they’re on the platform at the Olympic Games it just happens," Gattone said.

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It just so happens that Theisen-Lappen's time at Marquette with Dr. Kipp will be one of the most important steps in her journey to Paris.

"To be able to go with the best in the world, the best in your region, the best in your hemisphere basically, it’s pretty, it’s amazing. It’s fun and it’s rewarding," Theisen-Lappen said.

"It allows us to provide support for American athletes preparing for the 2024 Paris Olympics and hopefully, also, provides some information that helps guide decisions and training, etcetera for, perhaps, the next Olympic cycle. It also provide research information for us that helps us to learn more about weightlifting as a sport," Kipp said.