AdWeek Europe: Data And Human Emotions Together Make A Better Team In Sport

AdWeek Europe: Data And Human Emotions Together Make A Better Team In Sport

Data shouldn’t take away from your ability to make decisions in the moment, but it should give you confidence in yourself and your plan. This is not the view of a marketer or an agency, but of triple Tour De France-winning Team Sky.

Hussein Fahmy, head of legal and commercial affairs for Team Sky, was talking at the RadiumOne Leadership Breakfast on “The Olympics & Data: Running Rings around the Competition,” part of Advertising Week Europe.

Moderator Gabby Logan asked Fahmy whether the increasing use of data risked taking human emotions out of sport.

“You’ve got to be able to react, but the data gives you confidence in yourself and your training, and in the race plan,” he said. “There’s loads of noise going on in the middle of a race, and riders can get distracted. If you stick to the plan, it’s the path of least resistance.”

Olympic, World, and European medal-winning heptathlete Kelly Sotherton echoed the idea that data gives athletes confidence in their ability.

“There are seven events in the heptathlon, and you have to control your performance no matter whether you did well or badly in the previous events,” she said. “Having the training data means you know what you can do and it gives you the confidence to make the right decision.”

Sotherton and Olympic Bronze medal gymnast Kristian Thomas agreed that other sports are now following the lead of cycling and using data more widely—something they both attributed partly to the younger coaches coming through.

And all three agreed that the use of data would continue to grow.

“We have more and more reference points, so we can use data in more sophisticated ways,” Fahmy said. “We have better data partners now and a better understanding of what individual athletes need. There’ll never be a time when we stop collecting data, but we will use it in different ways.”