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From data comes power!


11 Aug 2020 | Emma Benham

Whether you enjoy a morning run, like to get out on the bike at a weekend or just want to make sure you hit your 10k steps a day the explosion of fitness and well-being applications means most of us are monitoring our fitness through apps like Strava or have a Fitbit or Garmin on our wrists. For Kingsley Ijomah, however, the tech goes further to supporting his training and mental preparedness ahead of a competition.

“My drive to become better at what I do is always there, it’s how I got into professional rowing, I actually came last at the Oxford Regatta years ago. The feeling of knowing I was capable of more but not knowing how to unlock the potential really spurred me on.”

Alongside being a Paralympian Kingsley is also a highly skilled software developer. Having worked at Gravity 9 prior to dedicating himself full time to his Paralympic training, Kingsley has found his programmer mindset has been a real benefit in advancing his rowing ability.

“As a programmer you are always seeking the best way to do something, testing, evaluating, then re-evaluating, aiming to build the best possible solution – it’s the same with rowing.”

Last month Kingsley got back out on the water for the first time this year.  After months of indoor rowing on sliders, getting the settings right on the boat took time. “As an athlete I’m classed as PR1 meaning all functionality is within my arms and shoulders. It takes time to adjust the setting within the boat to get it right for me. Every disability is different and the muscle groups we can tap into vary by individual, even within the classifications so one setting doesn’t suit all.”  Evaluating each setting through apps such as SpeedCoach, monitoring performance then making incremental changes to re-evaluate and A/B test is key.

There are multiple applications Kingsley uses in his day to day training.

“In my world, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.

Kingsley and his Coach are continuously evaluating the data, comparing against the previous weeks, months and years to identify where improvements can be made. “My coach will always let me know how I’m performing against the data, for me it’s crucial in understanding how I can excel, especially when I combine it with my mindset and how I was feeling on the day. Collating and reviewing all the data enables me to track patterns and learn where I can improve. Steady,continuous improvement is always the goal.”

Alongside the performance apps Kingsley always rows with a heart rate monitor to ensure he is within his set parameters.

“The heart rate monitor is one piece of tech every rower relies on; I know just by looking at the monitor if I have more in me or if I need to slow down. The technology we have available to us is fantastic, from my Concept 2 to apps I use to compete with friends, yet I’d still like to see the technology go further.”

The ability for athlete and coach to share data simultaneously is still not there. While Kingsley can track is performance on the water, his coach has to wait for Kingsley to shout out the figures to evaluate.

I’d really like us to have real time data sharing, an app that allows my Coach and I to be integrated, where they can set goals and can provide feedback in real time while I’m out on the water – for me that’s the dream.”

Hear more about what Kingsley had to say about the mindset crossover between training and programming and his view on e-sport in the Gravity 9 launch Digital Matters podcast launching soon.

Follow Kingsley journey to Tokyo every two weeks through our Keeping up with Kingsley blog and social posts.#KeepingupwithKingsley