Data the difference at Olympics for Allyson Felix

In the Olympics, the big difference concerning gold and silver is at times … knowledge.

Allyson Felix is the most embellished American keep track of athlete and most embellished female keep track of athlete internationally in the heritage of the Olympics.

Over five Olympiads, she has gained 11 medals, which include seven golds, 3 silvers and a person bronze. In 2021 in Tokyo, at the age of 35 and following providing start to a daughter in 2018, she gained bronze in the 400 meters and gold in the 4×400 relay.

But following the 2008 Video games in Beijing, she was having difficulties.

She had just gained silver in the 200 meters — her specialty — for the 2nd time, having fallen .thirteen seconds short of gold in 2004 in Athens and .19 short of gold in 2008.

She had to do anything in buy to make up individuals mere hundredths of a 2nd. She had to do anything distinct in buy for her to crack through and acquire gold in 2012.

Facts a differentiator

Analytics was the big difference as she organized for the 2012 Olympics in London. Like many athletes, knowledge analysis is what Felix and her group turned to when in search of a aggressive edge.

In London, she ran 21.88 in the closing, .05 seconds speedier than she ran in Beijing and .thirty seconds speedier than she ran in Athens. And she gained gold, beating Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce by .21 seconds.

Track star Allyson Felix (middle), Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long (right) and Jackie Yeaney, executive vice president of marketing at Tableau during Tableau Conference 2021.
Monitor star Allyson Felix (center), an 11-time Olympic medalist, will take section in a panel dialogue through Tableau Convention 2021 with Paralympic standout swimmer Jessica Extended (proper) and moderated by Jackie Yeaney, govt vice president of marketing and advertising at Tableau.

In addition, she gained gold medals in the 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay in London.

“The 2nd silver medal was most likely the most defining minute of my career because it forced me to glance at each and every element of my instruction and say, ‘How can I get better?'” Felix explained on Nov. 9 through Tableau Convention 2021, a virtual consumer convention hosted by analytics vendor Tableau. “I employed knowledge to glance at my instruction, my conditioning.”

By inspecting knowledge, Felix and her group recognized they were not doing enough function on the very first section of the race, her explosion out of the commencing blocks and ramp up to whole speed.

So speed in the early phases of the race became her aim as she organized for London.

The 2nd silver medal was most likely the most defining minute of my career because it forced me to glance at each and every element of my instruction and say, ‘How can I get better?’ I employed knowledge to glance at my instruction, my conditioning.
Allyson Felix11-time Olympic medalist

That meant far more sprinting in observe, and far more toughness function these kinds of as pushing a sled although operating and weightlifting.

“All of that speed function was what was missing for me,” Felix explained. “I necessary to be far more effective out of the blocks and speedier at ten meters, twenty meters. I could truly pinpoint wherever I was shedding the race, and it was all up entrance, it was all about electrical power.”

Little by little, as the 2012 Olympics approached, Felix’s knowledge-driven strategy assisted her improve and in the end acquire a gold medal.

“When I went back in 2012, I truly felt like a distinct athlete,” Felix explained. “I was in a position to function on all the parts I was weak in, and I really imagine it was all in a position to arrive with each other because I could see what was missing and what function necessary to be carried out.”

Advancing with age

Now at age 35, analytics continues to be a crucial signifies of staying aggressive, and both of those the technological innovation and the facts she makes use of have developed considering that she very first started off applying knowledge to advise her instruction for the 2012 Olympics.

Felix no more time specializes in the 200, which, presented the short structure of the race, depends greatly on response time at the start out.

Rather, she focuses on the 400, in which speed around time can make up for lost hundredths of a 2nd out of the commencing blocks. And her time in Tokyo, although not enough to acquire gold, established a Masters entire world file — she retains the top rated 3 instances for ladies 35 and around, and is the only lady to run the 400 in beneath 50 seconds following turning 35.

Maybe most importantly, Felix makes use of knowledge to examine her biomechanics.

She looks at her start out, making an attempt to slice milliseconds concerning the time the commencing gun pops and the time she rises out of the blocks. She looks at her sort during races — stride length, arm movement, head position. She looks at her lean at the end, that instant when thrusting her torso ahead could be the big difference concerning winning and 2nd in a race that comes down to inches.

Facts also informs what Felix does in observe.

She and her group log every thing she does through each and every instruction session and use analytics to find out insights about what to do through routines, and how to agenda her routines. That knowledge helps guide to peak effectiveness at the time of the biggest fulfills, these kinds of as the Olympics and Earth Championships.

She also makes use of knowledge to examine each and every element of her lifetime off the keep track of — what she eats and when she eats it, her slumber styles, her journey agenda — and how things like slumber, nourishment and journey have an affect on effectiveness.

And now that Felix has several years of knowledge to glance back on, she’s in a position to use historic knowledge to look at yr-around-yr facts to see wherever she is now in relation to wherever she was beforehand at the very same level in a instruction cycle. Using that knowledge, she and her group can make tweaks, ramping up in a person place or easing up in yet another.

“It comes down to hundredths of a 2nd,” Felix explained. “I’ve lost many races by a very small amount. When you might be working with sprints, a person incorrect angle can price you the race. I’m more mature now, so it can be much far more about the high-quality of function I’m doing — how can I use knowledge to be far more effective?”


One particular of the analytics programs Felix makes use of superimposes a product on top rated of a recording of her operating to clearly show wherever she is during a race in comparison to her finest performances and in comparison to entire world-file pace. That permits her to pinpoint wherever in a race she’s lagging driving and wherever she’s at her finest, and endeavor to figure out why.

She can examine her mechanics through individuals moments when she’s lagging driving or producing up floor, viewing regardless of whether her stride may perhaps have shortened at a specified level or wherever she may perhaps have drifted in her lane and price herself fractions of a 2nd.

“Getting all the online video, the breakdowns, the logs will allow me to pinpoint precisely wherever I’m attempting to go and how I can complete that,” Felix explained. “It is really a must have to have all this facts and have a approach, have a roadmap. We are relying on knowledge to get us there.”

Maria J. Danford

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