Analytics and Olympics
The epic sporting pinnacle of summer Olympics is going to be held in the beautiful city of Rio from August 5. For the participating sportspersons, the Games are the culmination of years of hard work and dreams. They’ve been preparing for success through sheer diligence, along with a pinch of smartness added by way of data analytics.
Sample this: after the German sailing team put up a poor show in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the team approached SAP to see if data analytics could help them. That partnership has culminated in a solid algorithm which is going to aid the team in their quest for success in Brazil this Olympics. The key to success is by modelling the exact factors that are likely to be encountered during the competitions. The data revealed that Guanabara Bay in Rio, the venue for the sailing competitions, has predictable tides. Since the tidal patterns repeat predictably, they can be extrapolated and the conditions can be simulated easily.
Consider competitive cycling, the equipments are tremendously advanced and already perform to their optimum. The key for a cyclist, therefore, is be to know how well he/she is utilising the equipment. With data sensors attached to the bike, plenty of crucial data can be collected in realtime during a race. The American cycling team has the know-how to analyse the data through IBM’s cloud platform and then projecting the results directly onto the cyclists’ eyeglasses so that they know the key stats at a glance, without ever having to look away!
With these, and many more examples of data analytics playing a big role at Rio, we may well expect plenty of Olympics records to be broken. Naturally, the question that arises is whether data analytics is the new performance enhancement for an athlete. Does a reliance on data analytics take away the level-playing field that is the bedrock of competitive sport? Will the use of technology give the wealthier nations a bigger advantage than the rest? That’s a question that will perhaps be only answered over time. Till then, let us admire the excellence of the greatest athletes on earth, some who are indeed further sharpening their edge with the miracle tool called analytics.
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