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Gold-medal cyclist leaned on Google Earth in training

Armstrong used GPS coordinates of Beijing course to find similar training route at home

By Heather Havenstein
August 27, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Kristin Armstrong, who won an Olympic-cycling gold medal on Aug. 13, this week said that Google Earth played a critical role in her training for the event.

The cyclist, who finished the 14-mile Beijing course in 34 minutes and 51 seconds -- 25 seconds faster than silver medalist Emma Pooley of Great Britain -- described her use of the Google Inc. application in a Tuesday post on the Google Earth and Maps Lat Long blog site.

Armstrong said she began her reconnaissance work to prepare for the time trial in December 2007 with a trip to Beijing to check out and ride the Olympic time trial course. Because the hilly course in Beijing was different from past courses where she has competed, Armstrong and her coach used a GPS device to get an elevation profile, she noted.

"While riding the course, I kept thinking to myself that we must be on the wrong road; there is just simply no way a time trial would have this much climbing!" Armstrong wrote. "At the reassurance from my coach and much to my delight, we were on the right course."

After she returned to her home in Idaho, Armstrong said she exported the GPS data to several different formats, including Google Earth, she said.

"I was then able to trace the entire course from the comfort of my home and find a similar route to train on back in Boise," she added. "This capability, along with having the elevation profile, proved invaluable in my preparation for my gold medal race."

Armstrong also used the Google Earth satellite views of the course to share a view of the route with her family and friends, she noted.

Since winning the gold, Armstrong added that she has begun using Google Calendar with her publicist/manager to coordinate requests for her time.

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