QS colleague Tim Hanrahan reports from QS15:
Last month’s Quantified Self conference concluded with the premiere of a new documentary on the 2012 U.S. Women’s Cycling Team — Personal Gold: An Underdog Story.
The premise: in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, the women’s team were the only U.S. cycling representatives. They had minimal support for their training leading up to the London games, especially when compared to the multi-million dollar budgets of the U.K. or Australia. So the four women, under the guidance of former Olympic cyclist Sky Christopherson, adopted a ‘Data Not Doping’ mentality to understand each of their individual bodies and personalize their training to cut even the slightest amount of seconds off their time.
It was a fitting close to the 3-day conference because Christopherson led the big data focused efforts by incorporating many Quantified Self studies and applications into tracking the athletes’ response to trainings, sleep habits, and even to the detail of the sleeping room temperature.
The 90-minute documentary focused on the trials and tribulations of the team’s grueling training in Europe before the thrilling conclusion at the 2012 London games. In addition to highlighting the quantified self processes, we got an inside glimpse at the discipline the athletes needed to compete at the highest level. It was inspiring to see the team’s sacrifice (even the women’s husbands were working full-time to help with the training) and their resourcefulness. Christopherson consulted with numerous big data leaders to learn about the technology and apply it towards the athletes in trial by error fashion. Seeing the errors amidst a heavy time crunch before London only made the result that much more gratifying.
Needless to say, Personal Gold connected with everyone in the QS audience that day. We saw the world’s best athletes use quantified self experiments to improve their optimal self and achieve their goals. I have no doubt that, no matter if you’re a cycling or quantified self enthusiast, the underdog story of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Cycling Team will appeal to you too.
To find out when Personal Gold will be screened near you, visit personal-gold.com and follow the film’s Twitter account @Personal_Gold. Without further ado, watch the trailer below to drive home everything above.