Art of Performance: Famous Sports Moments Graphed

The images you see here represent some of the best moments in sports history, while at the same time representing some of the best data visualization I’ve seen in a while. Not only do these graphics clearly and cleanly demonstrate the massive talent of the competitors in each varied sport, each also does it with a stylish and appropriate display for the data involved. For the information obsessed, these graphics truly prove that data can be beautiful.

Designed by London based Accept & Proceed for Planet K2 – a business coaching firm with the aim of teaching the business world to “think, prepare and perform like elite athletes” – each gold and grey design represents just that: the elite of the athletic world. Included in this, the second installment of their Art of Performance series, is runner Dame Kelly Holmes’ 800m and 1500m wins at the Athens Olympics in 2004; swimmer Mark Foster’s 50m Freestyle win at Barcelona in 2003; and Jonathan Edwards’ Triple Jump at Gothenburg in 1995.

Each is represented in a way that is appropriate to the sport involved – in the case of Dame Kelly Holmes we see a circular graph like a running track; in Mark Foster’s swim we see wave like forms; and for Jonathan Edwards’ triple jump the graph has staccato like bands to represent each jump. Be sure to see the full-sized versions of each of these to appreciate the attention to detail.


Below: Dame Kelly Holmes 800m & 1500m, Athens 2004 (click here or the image for a full-sized view)

“Using a circular graphic approach, reminiscent of an aerial view of running track, here we have an inner band of lines representing the 800m race, and the outer band the 1500m. Working counter clockwise (as the race is run) we see the lines representing each of the competitors, Dame Kelly Holmes in Gold, and the other racers in silver. We can clearly see Holmes finishing first in both races.” – PlanetK2

Below: Mark Foster 50m Freestyle, Barcelona 2003 (click here or the image for a full-sized view)

“A fluid approach to this graphing system, reminiscent of rippling water. The graph reads from left to right, with each swimmers position in the race being plotted horizontally on the graph, top being lead. Foster reacted 6th quickest to the starting gun at 00.76secs, and Popov 7th at 00.81secs, both coming through to finish the race in first and second positions. The smaller graph, bottom right, marks out each racers speed throughout the race.” – PlanetK2

Below: Jonathan Edwards Triple Jump, Gothenburg 1995 (click here or the image for a full-sized view)

“While this graph shows all competitors in part, it focusses mainly on the Gold (Jonathan Edwards), Silver (Brian Wellman) and Bronze (Jérôme Romain) medalists. Working from the centre of the semi circle, we see slices representing each of the jumps, Jonathan Edwards with the longest at 18.29m. In the bottom right we see a secondary graph, showing the velocity of the three leaders hops, skips and jumps.” – PlanetK2

Below, one example from The Art of Performance Series 1: Rafael Nadal claims Wimbledon men’s singles title, 2008 (click here or the image for a full-sized view)

“Certainly the longest Men’s Singles Final in Wimbledon’s illustrious history and arguably the greatest ever. This was the match that showed that Nadal really could call himself a master of all surfaces. It was also the match that brought Federer’s 60-match unbeaten sequence on grass to an end and meant that he wouldn’t be the first man since the 1880’s to win six consecutive Championships at the All England Club.

This work reminds us of the power and speed of that match. Taking our starting point from axonometric shapes of the tennis court, this complex but no less impressive graph breaks the match down into a series of fascinating statistics.

The percentage of successful first serves is shown on the first spike graph with Nadal winning 66% of first serve points but being eclipsed by Federer with 73%. Aces served and average serve speeds are also depicted, whilst the final graph shows that, at the end of 4 hours and 48 minutes of the most memorable tennis, Nadal had secured just five more points than his opponent – 209 in total against Federer’s 204. Several of the smaller graphs are hidden within the larger graphs.” – PlanetK2

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