Going for Gold: Data Science and the Olympic Games

Seminar Recording:


  • Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen – Director, QUT Centre for Data Science


  • Dr Lachlan Mitchell – Performance Scientist, Queensland Academy of Sport, Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport
  • Dr Paul Wu – Senior Lecturer, Associate Investigator ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical & Statistical Frontiers and Centre for Data Science QUT
  • Dr Allan Hanh – Leader, Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research at Queensland Academy of Sport
  • Professor Chris Drovandi – School of Mathematical Sciences, Program Lead Program Leader Models and Algorithms Centre for Data Science, QUT
  • Dr Char-lee Moyle – Senior Lecturer in Management, QUT Business School, Co-Leader Social Systems Domain Centre for Data Science


More about the Panel Session Topics

Dr Lachlan Mitchell: Data in the pool

Lachlan will provide an overview of the data QAS collects and analyses to help out athletes and coaches take on the world in the pool.

Dr Paul Wu: Finding a winning edge through data science: a swimming relay case study

As seen in the recent Tokyo Olympics, swimming relays are a source of medal opportunities for Australia. With ever-increasing competition, we show how statistical and machine learning approaches can help quantify factors that affect individual and team performances. We also developed a predictive model of gold and medalling probability given team make-up and strategy to support selectors and coaches.

Dr Allan Hanh: Interpreting the results of the Tokyo Olympics

In evaluating the performance of various nations at the Olympic Games, commentators often refer to the number of medals won relative to national population, but this is a flawed approach. In Tokyo, the number of medals won was highly related to the size of national economies. The performance of some nations, however, differed from predictions derived from that relationship. Exploration of the reasons for the differences could yield insights to guide the evolving design of Australia’s high-performance sport system.

Professor Chris Drovandi: Who really won the Olympics?

In this talk, Chris describes a statistical approach that can be used to adjust medal tallies for various factors such as GDP, population size and number of athletes.  The method is applied to the Tokyo medal tally and some interesting outcomes are revealed.

Dr Char-lee Moyle: Reconceptualising the planning, monitoring and evaluation of Mega Events: Possibilities for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games

Contemporary mega-events, like the Olympic Games, are iconic spectacles that can generate substantial economic activity and media attention for host nations, as well as facilitate global peace and solidarity. However, historical evidence of cost-blowouts, exaggerated benefit claims for host nations, and community disruption detract from potential benefits and have led to a rising crisis of confidence relating to the economic desirability of hosting the Olympic Games. This presentation will explore the history of mega event evaluation and the opportunities for better appraising the benefits for society.


More about the Moderator and Panellists

Dr Lachlan Mitchell is a Performance Scientist at the Queensland Academy of Sport specialising in the physiology of elite swimmers. He is a key member of the support team for a number of members of the Australian Dolphins and has supported coaches and athletes who have competed at the last three Olympic Games. Lachlan’s research has centred around new methods of assessing physiological and performance characteristics in elite swimmers, methods of mathematically describing the relationship between training and performance and using data more effectively to inform training methods.

Dr Paul Wu is a senior lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences and a Chief Investigator in the Centre for Data Science (CDS). He is passionate about developing and applying Bayesian and machine learning methods to tackle complex, real-world problems. Paul leads a number of collaborative projects between data science researchers, applied researchers and industry practitioners, especially in ecology, and sports and fitness.

Dr Allan Hanh is a Strategic Advisor to the research unit of the Queensland Academy of Sport, and also holds appointments as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and Griffith University. He is a former Chief Scientist of the Australian Institute of Sport, where he worked for 27 years and still has an Honorary Emeritus position. He has a long history of involvement in research and the application of findings to practical work with sports. His research activities have included areas such as talent identification, preparation of athletes for competition in the heat, altitude training, doping detection, and development of technologies aimed at effective athlete monitoring in laboratory and field situations.

Professor Chris Drovandi is a Professor in Statistics and Data Science at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia.  He is currently the lead of the QUT Centre for Data Science Models and Algorithms Program. He is an Associate Investigator of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, and an Associate Editor of Statistics and Computing.

Dr Char-lee Moyle is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management and the Advance Queensland Innovation Metrics Mid-Career Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology. She is the co-lead of the Social Systems domain of the Centre for Data Science and a member of the Centre for Future Enterprise. Her domain expertise lies in the field of tourism and event economics.


Location: Online
Start Date: 13/08/2021 [add to calendar]
Start Time: 12pm
End Date: 13/08/2021
End Time: 1pm (AEST)