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Technology can only enhance sports, says sponsor

Dimension Data’s du Plessis reveals how digital data can improve performance in the sports arena

Gulf News

Dubai: The deployment of technology that has enhanced excellence and connected fans to sport will continue in leaps and bounds in the near foreseeable future, according to one of the top software providers.

Technology provider Dimension Data has been associated with major cycling events around the world including The Tour de France, and its managing director for Middle East Mechelle Buys du Plessis is convinced technological innovation will further assist the cause of cycling.

“Every team has got their specific edge when it comes to implementation of technology that is meant to assist the athletes become just that little bit quicker. These are some phenomenal riders, and what we have done and are doing gives our team [Team Dimension Data] the edge to manage themselves. We supply them with the data they need, and the more data we give them, the more information they have at their disposal to see how they can get better as athletes competing at the top level,” du Plessis told Gulf News.

“These are top athletes and there is no way we can improve on their cadence. But through technology we can give them more data and additional information about how they are faring, because the more information they have, the better it is for them all,” she added.

Fifa and Formula One are among the latest world sporting bodies that have been experimenting and implementing the use of technology. “Sport has slowly transgressed into the technology fold, not just for the athletes but for the fans, viewers and spectators as well. Everyone is connected to their sport through various means ranging from television to social media. They need to know, and they have a right to know, and we are here to assist in this process,” she noted.

Despite the entry of technology, sport will still retain its basics and ethos that puts competition as its foremost priority. “I don’t think this trend will stop. It will progress and become even more complex. We can monitor fitness levels and this will continue to happen. The possibilities are endless in terms of the data available. We would take the real-time data, the historical data and the third party data and smash that together and get what is required. This area will continue to grow,” she predicted.

“Cycling will always be cycling with a lot of technology for the athlete and common people. The crunch line is that one still needs to be fit and one still needs to get onto a cycle and race. The basics of sport won’t change, but it will be enhanced. The fans will expect more and the sport will come even closer,” she added.

A part of the Dimension Data team since 1998, du Plessis moved to the UAE in 2007 and has delivered against various roles that include marketing, sales management and solutions director before moving in as Managing Director for the Middle East.

“From a technology angle, sport is evolving all the time. Dimension Data has been the technology partner for the Tour de France for the past four years and each year we leave with new learning and we return the following year with something bigger and better,” du Plessis related.

A member of the NTT Group, Dimension Data has been associated with cycling following their sponsorship of the cycling team and Tour de France since the past four years. “As a sponsor, we look after the fitness and monitor the cyclists all over the world. We developed an app [called Phila] for the team. It takes the physical element of the athlete combines that with his training data and puts that together to provide a holistic health report,” she related.

“This helps their fitness level and it helps the coach to manage them all 39 riders across ten countries. That’s quite a challenge. We basically bring all these pieces of data together which they can then share with each other and the team manager to get a holistic pic of the team,” she added.