How Manchester helped Olympic dream become reality in Rio
Some 6,000 miles from the sandy stretches of Copacabana beach or the Olympic stadium in Rio this summer, a special sporting team in Manchester played a key role in helping Team GB athletes to golden glory.
The English Institute of Sport's performance analysis hub, set up in the state-of-the-art Manchester Institute of Health and Performance (MIHP), was linked directly with the British School in Rio.
Experts based at both sites recorded and reviewed hundreds of hours of footage of the Olympic sporting events as they took place.
The work of the central performance analysis team was sent immediately through to the embedded analysts, coaches and athletes in more than 17 Team GB sports using the online video analysis platform dartfish.tv.
It provided crucial information on the performance of British competitors and their opposition – helping make the difference between winning Olympic gold and missing out on the podium altogether.
EIS head of performance analysis Chris White was based at the British School, just eight kilometres from the Olympic Village and Athletes’ Village in Barra de Tijuca.
As well as the technology that allowed the performance analysis team to link with Manchester, it boasted top training facilities, medical, physio and operational areas.
White says: “Team GB in Rio was the most supported that has ever competed at an overseas Games, and the performance analysts in Manchester played a vital role in this as the team behind the team.”
Cutting edge technology was used to deliver targeted video analysis to teams in the time frame they needed to make a difference.
The time difference meant some late nights for those back in Manchester.
One of the main roles for the team back in North West England was to review Team GB’s opposition – looking to identify all their strengths and weaknesses.
White says: “High performance sport within the UK has advanced significantly since the London 2012 Olympic Games in its delivery of technical expertise to sport and the performance analysis team based in Manchester are at the forefront of this.”
He adds: “The job of the analysts embedded within the teams at Rio and working at pitch side or in the arena was to provide simple, targeted and effective video and digital feedback to coaches.
“Research shows coaches only recall 30 per cent of the action and incidents played out on a pitch. We fill in the other 70 per cent.
"Why would you guess when you can know?”
White, who spent a decade working with British Cycling and Team Sky, says: “It’s an exciting job, every day is different.
"You are on the frontline, working with coaches and athletes, genuinely having an impact and adding value to their success.
“The athlete’s performance is what is important. You are the team behind the team, looking to support them in the best possible way.
“It never stops, and that is our challenge. You need to stay on the front foot with the technology.”
If there were fears that an amazing record of 29 golds and 65 medals overall at our home Games, London 2012, would never be repeated, they were put to bed in Brazil this summer.
Cutting-edge data techniques were again at the heart of Britain’s Olympic haul, 27 golds and 67 medals this time.
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