While a few Jews have famously excelled in sports, the prevailing stereotype is that Jews are not particularly athletic. A new center at Tel Aviv University hopes to change that.The new Sylvan Adams Sports Institute at TAU will conduct rigorous applied scientific research, as well as sports testing and training.It will draw on the ingenuity of biomedical engineers, medical scientists and other TAU researchers to raise the overall level of Israeli sports achievement in national and international competitions.The institute is the brainchild of Adams, a second-generation TAU donor and himself an amateur cycling champion and World, Canadian and Maccabiah gold medalist. Adams said he invested in the institute to promote Israel as a “start-up sporting nation.” Formerly of Montreal, he recently made aliya with his wife, Margaret.Prof. Mickey Scheinowitz of the Department of Biomedical Engineering is the director of the institute.Scheinowitz told The Jerusalem Post that the 4,000-square-meter, four-floor institute will be uniquely poised to serve athletes, not only because of its state-of-the-art facilities but also because it is centrally located in the heart of the TAU campus.“The athlete will be able to come to the institute and be surrounded by sports experts, each focusing on another aspect of sports.Together, they will be able to provide a global understanding of the athlete’s ability and performance,” said Scheinowitz. “One will assess his current athletic capabilities, another can examine his performance potential, and another can recommend where he should focus to improve his performance.”The multidisciplinary approach – combining the research and support engineering and medical scientists – is unique to the institute, which will be the only one of its kind in Israel and among an elite group of similar institutes around the world.A highlight of the new facility will be an accompanying hypoxic (altitude training) hotel. This technology is one of the most advanced, natural performance enhancing tools available today, according to Scheinowitz.Hypoxic training can improve recovery and rehabilitation, as well as enhance muscle function and increase the transport and uptake of oxygen by the body.Hypoxic training can be especially important for Israeli athletes who want to compete in events that takes place in cities and areas above sea level. It could also draw athletes from around the world, improving Israel’s sports tourism industry.Already this summer, the institute will open its first research labs, which will include swimming, running and cycling lots, all optimized for triathletes.Scheinowitz said he expects the institute to become a vital national resource through partnerships with the Israel Olympic and Paralympic Committees, the IDF Combat Fitness Center, and a range of other national sports associations that have already expressed a willingness to cooperate with the institute.“Israel’s standing as an innovation powerhouse is undisputed, and this institute will likewise focus on technology development,” said Scheinowitz. “We will be able to develop any kind of technology relevant for athletes.”Already, Scheinowitz’s team has developed a wearable chest strap that recommends intensity levels for aerobic exercise based on physiological data monitored in real time. Combined with a newly developed algorithm, the device can provide accurate activity levels for professional athletes, fitness buffs, and those suffering from heart conditions and other diseases.“This kind of research underpins the new institute,” said Scheinowitz, “which aims to dramatically improve Israel’s competitive edge in sports.”Does Scheinowitz expect more Israeli athletes to rise to the top and compete in the Olympics because of the new institute? “My gut feeling is absolutely yes,” he said.“We are going to look for those developing athletes who are 10, 12 and 14 years old, and who in six years, in 2024, we believe could be at the level of the Olympic Games. Through the institute, we are going to further develop their performance capabilities and lead them to the Olympics.”This article was written in cooperation with Tel Aviv University.