We are seeing lots of great data driven insights and innovations in the area of sporting endeavors. Euro 2016 is over, Wimbledon has been won, the Tour de France has just ended, and the Olympics will be upon us this week. It’s been another great summer for sport, and the ability to capture more data to optimise athletic performance is making a massive impact globally.

Data driven insights are transforming sport and sporting performance in almost every field of activity. From overseas companies such as EXOS to locally based ones there are massive improvements in the sporting performance possible from athletes. EXOS generated data insights from the 2014 World Cup were able to evaluate that Germany ran almost eight kilometres more than their French opponents, their performance levels and even their sleep patterns. Putting all of this data together then offers the ability to draw wider insights into achieving the best possible results.

In the recently completed Tour De France, Chris Froome helped Team Sky to win their fourth title in five years. An impressive performance considering the team was only created in 2009. Dave Brailsford initiated the concept of incremental gains, looking to achieve many small improvements to achieve an overall significant result based on data led insights. To this end they recruited Robby Ketchell, to be their Chief Data Scientist at Team Sky. Talking with Robby he explained more about the value of data to achieve significant improvements in team performance. “I believe that data science is probably the most misunderstood aspect of sports science and that there is a lot of potential for improvement. That’s why I’ve decided to focus a lot of my energy on data capture, management, and optimization.” After another successful year on le tour for Team Sky it certainly seems to be yielding positive results. While other teams look to copy their success, Team Sky appear motivated to continue to leverage the value of their data based insights to continue to improve their team performances.

In Ireland another company enjoying success in sporting fields through data led insights is Kitman Labs, who have developed the world’s first athlete optimisation system. Their goal is to enable the evolution of performance through machine learning, computer vision, analytics and sport science. Kitman labs have demonstrated it is possible to use data to achieve real-time actionable insights to reduce player injuries and optimise athlete’s performance. Jamie Heaslip, Leinster and Ireland rugby international, is one of their most prominent investors, based on his own experience of working with Kitman Labs at Leinster Rugby Club.

Kitman Labs have also been involved with the Irish men’s hockey team, helping them to manage their potential exposure to injuries through data based analytics. The team successfully qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics, making them the first Irish field sport team to compete at the Olympics in over 100 years. Ireland’s men’s hockey team head coach Craig Fulton has described the use of Kitman Labs’ injury prevention technology as “very, very helpful in preparing his side for its first appearance at the Olympics since London 1908.” This is a great example of an Irish company using data led insights to offer benefits to a wide range of sports, and potentially many more sports as well.

These are the sort of success stories that we will be celebrating at the inaugural 2016 DatSci Awards in Dublin this September at the Aviva stadium. If you’d like to be kept in touch with the latest news and updates about the individuals and companies that will showcased this year do sign up to our occasional email newsletter for more information. We’re always on the lookout for new and interesting data science led stories from both Irish and global companies. Let us know about them and we will share them via our twitter account @DatSciAwards. We look forward to hearing from you, and hopefully meeting some of you at the awards event in September, if you are interested in tickets for this inaugural Awards mail hello@datsciawards.ie for information.

 

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