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Stories from South East Asia Part 2 – Olympics and Role of Data Analytics

Kaustubh Patwardhan, Director I Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Ashnik
Singapore, 9 Aug 2016

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“Some are lifters, some swimmers, some magicians with a badminton racket. Some are sons, some daughters. But all of them are children of South-east Asia.” –  quite rightly put by Strait Times as the world’s sporting elite gathers for 31st Olympics Games in Brazil. London 2012 had been quite disappointing for 11 countries in South East Asia – the first ever gold-less Olympics since 1988. But athletes are not listening to these negatives and are quite optimists. This would be also first Olympics where Data Anlytics and Insights would be used in big way since data analytics technology in particular – has made great strides since London 2012. Data collection and analysis is having an impact on almost every sport these days and RIO Olympics would not be spared.

And that’s why probably the boxing champion entering the ring would know with more probability which tactics will help him/her win every fight, the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent, typical strategies of the opponents etc. The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has co-developed a database in which Australia’s National Sporting Organisations closely monitor approximately 2,000 athletes each week. A lot of data analysis has already went in while athletes were getting trained for Olympics. The use of wearable sensors have helped improve performance, increase fitness and reduce injuries. In case of biking, data collected from bike sensors, such as power, speed and pedal revolutions, are beamed wirelessly to the cyclist’s glasses via IBM’s cloud platform. As the athletes pedal furiously they can view their key stats without taking their eyes off the track. Rio’s Bay is tidal which creates repetitive pattern which has been used to analyse and draw predictions to create tide models to be used by Sailors. Of course, coaches and athletes must learn to trust data.

However, use of best technology and data analysis during training has raised a much bigger question. Does access to the best technology give richer countries an unfair advantage? The desire for competitive advantage is part of our survival instinct and that comes in our sports too. However, I believe, Olympics is about Will, Hope, Positive Attitude and Practice. And that will win in the end over anything, though nobody can deny role of technology now.

And that’s the reason, why  – in the Philippines, the weightlifting daughter of a motorised rickshaw driver hikes up mountain trails. In Indonesia, a girl born with smaller lungs makes big leaps in a long-jump pit. In Vietnam, a fine shooter makes do with a small quota of pellets. They might not have been trained using all advanced technology. They might be from poorer backgrounds. But as Straits Time says rightly, “They all speak different languages but they share a common geography and carry a joint dream. They come from a South-east Asian clan and they are going to join the tribe of Olympians. They travel in search of medals and memories, relevance and validation. They are the Olympic heirs to Indonesia’s Susi Susanti, who won badminton gold in 1992, and proof that their lesser-known nations also matter at this Games.”
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– Kaustubh Patwardhan, Director I Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Ashnik

Kaustubh (KP) is the Head of Business Development and Strategy at Ashnik. His role comprises of heading Strategic Partnerships, Channels Management and Business Development for ASEAN. With his expansive experience in IT, he plays a pivotal role in strategic initiatives undertaken by Ashnik. Apart from his usual responsibilities at Ashnik, he is passionate about photography, cricket and other sports. He is also an enthusiastic participant in poetic circles and plays.


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