The data behind an Olympics story

The Olympic Games have all the elements of a great story—power, drama, intrigue, and the key moment when one team rises above the rest and is dressed in Olympic gold. I guess I can’t help but love the Olympics– as a professional communicator, I can’t resist a great story.

Increasingly, narratives of perfect Olympic moments will include a new character: big data. Just as statistics changed baseball—as outlined in Michael Lewis’s best-selling book, Moneyball, and the 2011 film starring Brad Pitt—data is changing the way athletes train, and the way they approach competitions.

SAS is part of that story. SAS is the official analytics partner for British Rowingand the GB Rowing team. Over in the UK, our folks are helping the British rowing team apply data analytics to their rigorous Olympic training. They are hoping it pays off with a gold medal for Great Britain’s rowing team. In this video, my colleague across the pond Hugo D’Ulisse explains it well:

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“As performance gains get smaller and smaller, as the margin of victory gets smaller and smaller, how can you use data from the past to inform decisions that you make today?”

In a sport like rowing, which has multiple variables—data can help make the difference between two highly talented, hardworking teams. While a runner works independently, rowing includes multiple athletes working together, in a boat, on an extremely unpredictable surface—water. Data about each of these elements—from SAS—is helping create a fuller, more intelligent picture of victory for Great Britain’s rowing team. As D’Ulisse puts it “It’s a complicated picture, and what we’re helping British rowing understand, is all three of those dimensions.”

At SAS, our products help our customer’s find and use information (gleaned from data) that will help them improve their business.

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