Rowing races are often decided by the finest of margins, and Alnwick’s Sam Courty admits that data analysis has become integral to ensuring British Rowing remains ahead of the competition.

The 25-year-old World Class Start programme graduate was speaking at an event raising awareness about the methods used by British Rowing to identify medal-winners of the future.

With the help of its Official Analytics Partner, SAS, British Rowing has developed the Athlete Longitudinal Profiling (ALP) project to help streamline the talent identification and selection process and maintain British Rowing’s dominance in the sport.

Olympians Greg Rutherford and Morgan Lake were put through their paces at the event to show how few individuals have the right physiological makeup to make it on to the WCS programme.

And Courty, who was on hand to mentor Rutherford and Lake, believes the way SAS has helped British Rowing access and analyse data more efficiently and effectively is a game-changer.

“It’s a very data-driven sport and SAS provide a system that means we can get the most out of our performance, not just on the big stage, but every day through training,” she said.

“To have all that feedback processed and given back to us in a way we can all understand is vital to winning the medals at the very top of the sport.

“When I started from the talent ID programme, they can track what athletes are doing and even the things they perhaps haven’t picked up on in the data - they can start to see trends in the athletes.

“When they are selecting new athletes and if there is something in the past they haven’t known to be a quality of a rower, that is now showing up and the talent ID is more specific, which is invaluable.

“For me the stuff we get on the water and the telemetry side of it is great. We can say how we feel and the coaches can say what they’re seeing, but to have the data given to us showing what the boat is doing, the acceleration curves on a piece of paper is instant feedback.

“We get it as soon as we get off the water in between sessions so if there’s anything we want to alter that is all there available to us and we can make those alterations for the next session.

“It’s providing those marginal gains that put us ahead of everyone else. We’re focusing on going quickly and getting medals at Tokyo and on to Paris, so it’s great to have that support around us.”

Since 2014, SAS has been working with British Rowing to improve its data analytics capacity and capabilities, allowing the team to optimise already successful pathway programmes.

The specific rowing tests and the ALP project are able to accurately determine whether Rutherford and Lake would stand a chance of progressing on to the World Class Start programme or not.

Both Rutherford and Lake had their measurements recorded before taking part in a strength test on a Concept2 DYNO machine and an endurance test on a Schwinn Airdyne arm/leg bike.

It brought back plenty of memories for Courty, who went through the process herself after learning to row while studying at the University of Bath in 2012.

“The World Class Start testing is very hard and I do remember it quite well, especially the Schwinn bike, and everything was very similar then to what Greg and Morgan did,” she said.

“I remember trying my absolute hardest to do my best on everything and since then I know how every element relates to rowing, the pull and the leg press especially.”

Having only been a spare at this year’s World Championships, Courty is determined to make sure she is not on the side lines again when the event takes place in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria, next year.

“We’ve just started back training after our four-week break. It was really nice to get some time away, have a mental break, recharge the batteries and see a few friends,” she said.

“I’m now looking ahead to the big event for the next year, the World Championships, the Olympic qualifying regatta and getting as many boats qualified for Tokyo as possible.

“Last year I was a spare in Bulgaria and I definitely used that as a way to say to myself, ‘Right, it’s time to turn it up’, it’s the final two years and it’s a big two years. I don’t want to be the spare again and I’m definitely feeling motivated to crack on and get out there.”

Sam Courty was speaking on behalf of SAS at the British Rowing’s training base in Caversham, Berkshire. SAS – the leader in analytics software and services – is the Official Analytics Partner of British Rowing and is playing an integral role in the development of British Rowing’s Athlete Longitudinal Profiling (ALP) project. For further information visit