Delivering our Sport 2.0 Every Second Counts at Leeds International Festival

We had a successful day at the Leeds International Festival hosting our Sport 2.0 Every Second Counts event.

There was a brilliant line up of speakers ranging from Olympians to former Premier League referees to huge sporting event managers, all talking about their experiences in the sports industry with technology and how it’s become so important over the past few years.

Hosting our event and starting off the day, we had the amazing Greg Whyte who made sure to get the audience involved at every opportunity. Not only a two-time Olympian but through assisting various celebrities in many Comic Relief challenges has helped to raise over £35 million for charity. He definitely kicked off the day in a fun and engaging way and we couldn’t have found a more suited and informed host.

The morning started off with David Elleray, a former Premier League referee and IFAB’s Technical Director, who gave some informed views into technology within football and particularly how VAR has affected the sport.

“Every World Cup match would have had a different outcome if it wasn’t for VAR.”

He finished his talk with the future of technology in football, how the immediacy of decisions should improve and how heat spots could be used to assist with fouls. What better way to start the day?

Staying on topic, Barry McNeill was our next speaker, CEO of Catapult Sports EMEA and APAC. He spoke about his personal experiences with helping sports managers and coaches overcome the barriers they had with technology- and how some didn’t even know how to use a mouse…

He spoke about Leicester City F.C. and how they were never destined to be within even the top 6 of the Premier League but thanks to their early adoption of technology, defeated these obstacles.

CEO of Park Run, Tom Williams was our next speaker talking about the incredible story of Park Run and it’s growth. From just 13 people, a stopwatch, clipboard and pen to being in over 600 locations and now utilising technology to support these huge numbers.

It was interesting to hear how technology has assisted in these events and yet at the same time, when stripped back, follows the same basic system as a stopwatch, clipboard and pen.

To end the morning’s talks was Amy Williams MBE. As a British Gold Medal winner, she gave exclusive insights into how when she first started out in Skeleton Bobsleigh, technology was minimal with purely just a video recorder to track her performance.

Now, technology helps her hugely in measuring her angles, her pressure points and how she can achieve the cleanest line. It’s also great for measuring yourself against competitors as you can see how clean your line is compared to other athletes.

After a Q&A session from our morning speakers and lunch, kicking off the second half was none other than endurance athlete and sporting inspiration, Sam Boatwright. It was interesting to hear the perspective of some one who doesn’t have the finance behind them to afford the most innovative technology as other athletes do.

Telling us his story of achieving the impossible with purely his mindset was truly inspiring. He spoke about the importance of a watt bike and how that helps him to improve and track his performance, how drones help show his performance when swimming but ultimately as much as technology is a factor, it’s down to the person, the raw talent, the love for it, the effort and the willpower- add technology to it and you can make an Olympic athlete.

Next was, Head of Channel 4 sport, Pete Andrews talking about how technology now plays a huge part in the broadcasting of sports, particularly with the likes of formula 1 which is now a very high-tech event and probably the most advanced in the sporting world. He spoke through Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics and how important technology will be in Tokyo 2020.

Testing innovations such as inputting cameras onto wheelchairs could give some great live cuts bringing the audience as close to the event as possible. He believes all technology is pretty much there, but the delivery of it being quick enough is a massive challenge for broadcasting.

Our final speaker of the day was British Record Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey. She spoke about how technology is now a massive factor in the Paralympics. From being an enabler through replacing missing limbs or functions to understanding how the competition is performing, there are so many factors that technology is now helping with. The future? She says it will be a refinement of what’s already existing.

It was a really successful and informative event with some very knowledgeable and inspiring speakers. We had a great day and hope everyone who attended did too!