Nothing is left to chance by British Rowing – and that’s just how Olympic champion Moe Sbihi likes it as he strives to reach the pinnacle of his sport once again at Tokyo 2020.
The imposing 6ft 6ins rower knows better than most about the demands of British Rowing’s World Class Start programme, having graduated from it before winning Olympic gold in Rio.
Now, with the help of its Official Analytics Partner, SAS, British Rowing has developed the Athlete Longitudinal Profiling (ALP) project to help streamline the talent identification and selection process and maintain British Rowing’s dominance in the sport.
Speaking at a SAS event at British Rowing’s training base in Caversham, Berks, Sbihi believes the advancements made in data analysis will ensure the country’s rowers remain on top.
“Somewhere on one of the coach’s laptops is all my data, and then over the last four of five years that SAS has been involved, my data is not just on laptops, it’s been put into a database,” he said.
“It’s now very easy to extract what we need to find from my own scores that date back 15 years and every ergo I do, every weight I lift, every stroke I take, every race I do is a piece of data.
“So, per athlete, there are hundreds of thousands of data points and the older you are, like me, the more data points they have on you, so the ability to extract that data and use it quickly is key.
“Often each year you see different focuses, different data awareness being raised and for me now the big drive in my data is to make my acceleration curve steeper.
“I’ve got the coaches, the physiologist, the weights room and the strength and conditioning coaches all working towards how I can make my data point steeper.
“We’ve been fortunate over the last 20 years to be the best rowing nation in the world, or at least have the best rowers, and we followed London with another fantastic performance in Rio.
“Tokyo 2020 is going to be hard as the world has caught up so any competitive edge that SAS can help to provide is key.”
Since 2014, SAS has been working with British Rowing to improve its data analytics capacity and capabilities, allowing the team to optimise already successful pathway programmes.
Olympians Greg Rutherford and Morgan Lake were put through their paces to demonstrate how complex British Rowing’s talent identification system is at British Rowing’s training base in Caversham, Berks at a SAS event.
The specific rowing tests and the ALP project can accurately determine whether Rutherford and Lake would stand a chance of progressing on to the World Class Start programme or not.
Sbihi was on hand to guide them through the tests, along with fellow rowers Holly Hill and Sam Courty, and said it brought back memories of when he went through the rigorous process.
“The Schwinn bike is incredibly hard as it’s not just about how fit you are, it’s about how much you’re willing to dig deep and I’ve been around the testing process long enough,” he said.
“I did it once on the testing day and a couple of times afterwards and you can tell the people who just give up and don’t dig deep; rowing is all about digging deep.”
Sbihi is currently preparing himself for ‘six weeks of hell’ in training before Christmas and while he admits the team has work to do ahead of Tokyo, he is confident they can rise to the challenge.
“I knew the deal when I signed back up after Rio that I might not be given the opportunity to win a gold medal ever again – the pinnacle I had just reached might never happen again,” he said.
“Last season was our midway point and I’ve been around for an Olympic cycle twice now, this is my third one and I can say with conviction that we’re building something.
“I see an understanding of what we need to do to achieve the next goal and that’s Tokyo 2020, but this year is all about having the biggest, hardest training programme.”
Moe Sbihi was speaking on behalf of SAS at the British Rowing’s training base in Caversham, Berkshire. SAS – the leader in analytics software and services – is the Official Analytics Partner of British Rowing and is playing an integral role in the development of British Rowing’s Athlete Longitudinal Profiling (ALP) project. For further information visit www.sas.com
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