Glasgow 2014

Pixel Sport Meets Seb Coe: Technology Has Changed Sport Forever

A version of this article was originally published on TechWeekEurope. For more sports technology coverage click here.

Lord Sebastian Coe, the former chairman of the organising committee for London 2012 Olympic Games, says technology has changed sport in ways he couldn’t have imagined when competing in the 1500 metres and 800 metres in the 1970s and 80s.

Speaking during the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the current chair of the British Olympic Association (BOA), explained that IT has become an increasingly integral part of the planning process for major sporting events in order to keep up the increasing demands and expectations of athletes, officials, the media and spectators.

“Science and technology, in particular, have changed the way we train for sporting events, how we take part in them and how we experience them as spectators,” he said.

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Pixel Sport Meets Seb Coe: Rio 2016 Will Be A Success And Urges Hampden To Keep The Track

Lord Sebastian Coe’s career as a sports administrator has been so successful it’s sometimes easy to forget he was a brilliant athlete too, winning gold in the 1500 metres at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and silver in the 800 metres in both of those years.

The former chairman of the organising committee of the 2012 London Olympic Games and the current chair of the British Olympic Association (BOA) and one of three vice presidents of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has quite the CV.

When he talks about a major sporting event, people listen, which is why his views on the Rio Olympics, Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the future of the Paralympics mean something. Fortunately for Rio, he is bound by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to share his wisdom and experiences of organising an Olympic Games, something he is more than happy to do.

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Glasgow 2014: The Technology Behind The Commonwealth Games

A version of this article was originally published on TechWeekEurope. For more sports technology coverage click here.

The Commonwealth Games is the second-largest multi-sport tournament in the world, second only to the Olympics in scope, with the twentieth edition in Glasgow comprising some 260 medal events, 4,500 athletes and 15,000 volunteers.

The closing ceremony on Sunday brought to an end not just 11 days of superb sport, but also an extensive IT operation that has been instrumental to delivering what Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) CEO Mike Hooper called “the standout games in the history of the movement.”

While Usain Bolt, Greg Rutherford and Tom Daley were taking the plaudits in the competition venues, a more modest technology team, based at the Technology Operations Centre (TOC) at games headquarters in the city centre, ensured everything ran smoothly.

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Glasgow 2014: How Tech Helped Elinor Barker Win Silver And Bronze

This is an updated version of article that appeared on TechWeekEurope. For more sports technology coverage click here.

There was a time when a half-time orange and the magic sponge where the height of technological innovation in sport, but in 2014, sporting federations and teams have armies of coaches, sport scientists and nutritionists whose job is to extract every ounce of performance from their athletes.

Video and data analysis is now used in almost every part of professional sport and cycling is no exception. For Great Britain’s world champion cyclist Elinor Barker, it helps her train, understand and improve her performances and help her fight the battle against doping.

Barker, winner of the team pursuit event at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, won silver in the 25km points race and bronze in the 10km scratch race at the Commonwealth Games and is adamant that technology has helped her in her preparation.

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Glasgow 2014: The Commonwealth Games Are More Than Just ‘S**t’

Bolt’s alleged discretions aside, the comparisons between Glasgow 2014 and London 2012 were inevitable and unfair. With so many countries excluded because they never had the dubious honour of being invaded by the British (or were so unhappy with its rule that they left the Commonwealth), the standard in many sports was always going to be lower than the Olympics of a World Championships.

This much was evident from the moment Glasgow won the right to host the twentieth commonwealth games in 2007 and it didn’t seem to bother the Scottish public, the 15,000 volunteers and many of the participants, who were either delighted by their triumphs or distraught by their defeats. It’s clear they don’t share Bolt’s supposed claims that the Commonwealth Games are “a bit shit”.

The empty arenas of Delhi were replaced by passionate crowds in sporting theatres old and new – the Hydro, Ibrox and Hampden Park –  the latter of which just looks as though it was made for athletics. The ethos of the friendly games was maintained with support offered for all nations, not just the Scots, but on the courts, pitches, floors and tracks, there were plenty of people desperate to bring home gold.

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Glasgow 2014: The Politics Of The Commonwealth Games

And so the ‘friendly games’ begin. An opening ceremony filled with humour, tartan and an inexplicable amount of John Barrowman marked the start of the twentieth Commonwealth Games, a postcolonial curiosity has managed to endure almost a century of drastic political change.

Naturally a home games will always attract more attention in the UK, but Glasgow 2014 feels like a big deal. The enthusiasm of the host city is a marked change from the disinterest that greeted Delhi four years ago and despite injury and one or two exceptions, the Commonwealth’s biggest athletes are mostly here – including Usain Bolt.

This is Scotland’s chance to build on the momentum generated by London 2012 and the Rugby League World Cup last year and continue it onto the Rugby World Cup in 2015, as the UK’s ‘Golden Decade’ of sport continues.

But there’s an unavoidable elephant in the room – the issue of Scottish independence. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has promised he won’t politicise the games, but many will be waiting to see what kind of impact, if any, the games have on the referendum in September.

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