Graeme Demianyk   |   November 20, 2016    9:01 PM ET


Andy Murray will end the year as the world’s number one men’s tennis player - with critics hailing the Scotsman as Britiain’s greatest athlete.


And it was double-delight for mother Judy Murray - who celebrated her son’s ranking triumph by tweeting an image of Andy with older brother, Jamie, who is the world number one men’s doubles player.


“Pride of Scotland, kings of world tennis,” it reads.






The older sibling chimed in too.






After earlier this month becoming the first British singles player to top the world rankings since the current system was introduced in 1973, Murray secured the coveted year-end spot after beating Novak Djokovic to win his first ATP World Tour Finals title at London’s O2 Arena.


The 29-year-old said: 



“I’m very happy to win and to be world number one is very special. It’s very special playing against Novak in a match like this.”







It’s been one hell of a year.






Here was the reaction from his closest rivals ... 










... while politicians, pundits and journalists were united in their respect for the sportsman.




















Sarah Harris1   |   October 25, 2016   10:48 AM ET

Read More: uk news, UK Sport, UK Tennis

This is the bizarre moment a Russian tennis player chopped off her own ponytail in the middle of a match.

Svetlana Kuznetsova was 1-2 down in the third set to world number three Agnieszka Radwańska when she took the unusual step. 

According to the Guardian, she requested a break in play during the WTA opener in Singapore on Monday and a pair of scissors, before hacking off her hair.

Once the ponytail was removed, Kuznetsova returned to court where she claimed victory, winning 7-5, 1-6, 7-5.

She later posted a clip of her impromptu haircut on Instagram, with the caption: “Sometimes you gotta do it not by best hairdressers and not at [the] best time.”

Kuznetsova later explained that her hairstyle had been bothering her during play.

According to BBC Sport, she said: “It was bothering me a lot. When I was hitting the forehands I hit a good shot and it would hit my eye.

“I thought, ‘what’s more important? My hair, which can grow, or the match?’”

This is not the first time a tennis player has been spotted giving themselves an on court haircut. 

While playing Rafael Nadal during last season’s ATP finals, Andy Murray gave himself a quick fringe trim.

It seems that was less effective than Kuznetsova’s haircut, since the British player went on to lose against the Spaniard.

Video Replays In Football: Surely It's Time?

Ross Ayling   |   September 21, 2016   10:37 PM ET

I'm sure many of you saw the absolutely horrendous decision from Lee Mason to award Middlesbrough's opener against Everton at the weekend. Granted, at first, it looked like the Boro frontman Alvaro Negredo simply beat Everton Keeper Martin Stekelenburg to the ball and headed it into the net - just a sloppy bit of goalkeeping right? Wrong. The replays showed what was possibly the clearest foul ever to be committed on a goalkeeper. Instead of heading the ball, like you're supposed to, Negredo actually headed the keeper's arms, causing him to throw the ball into his own net. Now in my book, and everyone's book (apart from Mr Mason's) that's not allowed - the goal shouldn't have stood. That's 12 points robbed from my fantasy team clean sheet; so who's going to reimburse them? That's what I want to know.

This came just a week after another horrific display of refereeing in the Swansea vs Chelsea game. If you haven't seen it yet, please do. For everyone that's not a Chelsea fan, it's a great laugh. Unfortunately, for those of you that are, like myself, it's more one of those "I'm going to break literally everything in this room" type moments. The incident I'm referring to is of course the FOUL(S) by Leroy Ferr on Gary Cahill in which he blatantly kicked the Chelsea defender... twice... from behind... to steal the ball and run through and score. This moment of madness ended up costing Chelsea two points, which is pretty hilarious/annoying, depending on who you support.

An understandably outraged Gary Cahill comically slated referee Andre Marriner and his team of officials in his post match interview by claiming; "you could be sat on the moon and see it is a clear foul". The interview is well worth a watch, the best you'll see in a long time. The "Like... come on... seriously..." really made me chuckle. Admittedly, Diego Costa could have been given a second yellow for a dive which would have seen him see red (not for the first time this season - I really wish he'd stop with the silliness); and it's just further evidence that supports the fact that we need video assistance in the game.

Imagine being Andre Mariner, watching the incident back on Match of The Day later that evening. He must've felt like a grade A moron - and rightly so. It's simply not acceptable for referees to KEEP ON making these dreadful errors. Enough is enough, surely? We have the technology to help these visually impaired idiots, so why not use it? Alright, idiots may be a tad too harsh, and I do have sympathy for referees and the stick they get. It's a hard job, there's no question about that. In the wise words of Michael Owen "Refereeing is the hardest job in the world." Okay Michael, sure... I did hear Mark Clattenburg was considering a career in Astrophysics, and Howard Webb was once in the running for President. They both felt refereeing was more of a challenging job proposition, though. Anyway, back to the topic on hand...technology in football, and why on earth we aren't using it. Video replays, FA. It's that simple. Use video replays.

Let's take a look at the sports that have actually evolved from 1920 by incorporating instant video replays into their game. Rugby, probably the sport that's most similar to football, first brought video referring in almost 15 years ago. 15 years. For god's sake. In Union it's used to review tries and kick goals and in League the video ref can be called upon to make decisions on knock-ons, offsides and obstructions. Sounds pretty fair if you ask me, and I'm sure there's 99.9% less controversy as a result. In cricket, the 'third umpire' is often called upon to assist umpires with decisions relating to well, pretty much everything; LBWs, stumpings, run-outs, catches, and boundaries. Furthermore, a referral system was brought in that allowed teams to challenge a decision of the umpire and have it reviewed via video replay - each team is granted three referrals per innings. It's incredible how many decisions are actually overturned. Again, seems very fair and damn right necessary.

Tennis is another example in which this 'Hawk-Eye' referral system is frequently utilised by players, and also broadcasters, to review if the ball has landed in or out. That's another thing, it adds to the excitement for both the crowd and those of us watching at home. A set winning point that gets the call to be challenged can be more gripping than the actual tennis itself. Over the pond, video replays are used to assist official's decisions in basketball, ice hockey and baseball. So someone please tell me why the suits over at football HQ haven't given it the green light yet?

"It would mean too many stoppages." So what? I'm pretty sure 100% of football players, referees and fans would prefer to wait 15 seconds for a decision to be reviewed than for it to be blindly and incorrectly awarded. I'm sure the broadcast companies will find a way of sneaking in an advert for Bet 365 in there while we wait anyway, so it's a win-win for everyone really. Let's actually think of how much could be resolved by simply having the option to have a closer look at an in game incident.

Firstly, offsides. Imagine how many goals have been scored/shouldn't have been given because of incorrect offside decisions. I appreciate it's not always easy for linesman to make the right call; football is a fast paced game. Some decisions are literally ridiculous though, and can be seen from not only the moon, but Pluto. Probably. All it'd take is one replay to see if the player is offside or not, and the correct decision can be given. It would take no longer than 20 seconds, even for the tight calls.

Secondly, penalties. The exact same thing applies here. Blatant fouls and handballs inside the box that are dismissed by the bottling ref and brilliantly timed challenges that see him point straight to the spot and reach for his red card. There must be on average at least one questionable penalty/should have been a penalty decision per game. Considering a penalty is almost a guaranteed goal, it's such a key moment in a game; so you can understand the frustration of managers, players and fans after essentially being robbed of a win or draw due to an clear cut refereeing mistake. Other incidents such as red cards, dives, and just general points of controversy that may impact the outcome of a match, can be properly seen to and corrected.

I'm not saying review every single decision the referee makes; obviously they'd have to be some sort of system in place like the other sports have. It's not like the FA don't have the ability to make this happen either, we see it every week on MOTD. Yeah, great, let's just watch the pundits analyse the footage after the game so we can sit there and be annoyed about how terrible the ref was. If they can do it after the match, why not let the officials take a look during the actual game - when it matters.

We've got goal-line technology now, great. That only took about 100 years for FIFA to finally realise it was needed, and I fear there will be a similar level of faff with video replays too. They were recently trialled for the first time in an international friendly between France and Italy, which means we'll only have to wait 72 decades for them to appear in the Premier League. The sooner we get them in, the better and fairer the game will be. It's pretty much as simple as that. Andre Mariner and Lee Mason, you might want to give this article a share boys, it might just help your cause.

This article was written by Sports Tours, a specialist sports tour operator that seek to provide and organise the best sports tours, tournaments and festivals for amateur clubs and school teams, both in the UK and overseas.

Never Give Up: Why Disappointing A-Level Results Need Not Stop You From Landing Your Dream Job

Richard Sackey-Addo   |   August 17, 2016   12:45 PM ET

This week students await their A-Level results with great expectation. I remember feeling like that too. I had two conditional offers from universities and was all set to go and study to be a physiotherapist. Then I got my results - my grades were lower than expected and I found myself in UCAS Clearing.

If that day you had told me that four years later I would be working for the International Tennis Federation as an Assistant Research Officer, based in Valencia, I wouldn't have believed you! I was just so disappointed on results day - my whole family had been to university and I knew how important it was in terms of maximising my career options, so the idea that I might not have that opportunity really worried me.

I was never in any doubt that I still wanted to go to university, so I had to calm down and look at my options.

I spent a lot of time looking at the Clearing list for physiotherapy courses, as that had been my first choice, but unfortunately there were no spaces. I switched my attention to Sports Science, as the A-Level requirements were similar, and I spotted a Sport and Exercise Science course at the University of Bedfordshire. I spoke to a member of the admissions team who explained the content of the course and it sounded just what I wanted to study. I sent over the necessary paperwork immediately.

I had a fantastic experience of university. I settled into the course really easily and everyone was really supportive. I had the same set of tutors throughout my course so I got to know them really well and vice versa. They were very approachable and helped me outside my course too, including helping me secure work experience.

I was really keen to hit the ground running, particularly given the circumstances in which I got in to university; I was just delighted to be there. I think meeting new people and networking is the number one thing - if you don't ask you don't get. I did whatever I could to speak to whoever I could, to get my foot in the door.

With this approach I was able to gain experience in tennis, my favourite sport, I was the university's Tennis Ambassador and Tennis Coordinator, and I volunteered as part of the university's 'Get into Sport' scheme. I was also awarded a Gold Sport Coach Scholarship which meant that the university paid for my Level 2 coaching qualification.

The experience I gained was vital in securing my current position at the International Tennis Federation. I was able to work in a great variety of roles at university, from coaching junior players to widening tennis participation among the students. This experience, coupled with my university qualifications, meant I had a really strong CV when I left.

So from the setback of a disappointing results day, I am now in position to support the tennis stars of the future, developing tennis coaching worldwide and overseeing 'Tennis iCoach' - a huge online library of resources for players, coaches, parents and Sports Science practitioners.

It is easy to be disheartened when you are faced with disappointment. Your dream job may seem a long way off, but it is crucial to keep persisting and to remember that with a positive outlook, anything is possible.

Sarah Harris1   |   August 15, 2016   11:20 AM ET

Andy Murray was quick to set John Inverdale straight when the presenter seemed to forget that women’s achievements in tennis also count.

During his post-match interview with Murray after the champion’s men’s singles victory at the Olympics, Inverdale remarked that Murray was the first person to win two tennis golds in the sport.

But Murray reminded him: “Venus and Serena have won about four each.”

Inverdale was presumably referring to the fact that Murray is the first man to win back-to-back singles gold medals.

The Williams sisters both have one women’s singles gold and three doubles golds apiece.

JK Rowling, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and MP Jess Phillips were among those who also castigated Inverdale...

Many others also praised Murray for his response...

It’s not the first time the BBC presenter has run into trouble regarding women in sport.

During coverage of Wimbledon in 2014, he attracted huge criticism for his comments on 2013 women’s singles champion Marion Bartoli.

He said that Bartoli was “never going to be a looker” - and it seems social media users haven’t quite forgotten that one either...

That particular comment prompted hundreds of complaints to the BBC.

It seems like things have also been getting a little tense between Inverdale and Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave while the pair presented the rowing at Rio.

Incidents included Redgrave shaking an umbrella over Inverdale, stopping him when he tried to interview a winning rower and even appearing to walk off.

Christopher York   |   August 11, 2016    6:45 AM ET

Read More: uk news, UK Sport, tennis


Police are investigating the possibility a British tennis player was deliberately poisoned during last month’s Wimbledon Championships.


Gabriella Taylor, 18, was forced to withdraw midway through the girl’s quarter-finals and spent four days in intensive care “close to death”.


It was initially thought she had contracted a virus while playing overseas but was eventually diagnosed with a virus that can be transmitted through rat urine called Leptospirois









Police have launched a criminal investigation into whether or not she was deliberately poisoned, possibly by an organised betting syndicate or a rival player or coach, reports the Telegraph.

Taylor’s mother, Milena, said her daughter was staying “in a completely healthy environment” and it was “impossible” for her to have become ill.

“The bacteria the infection team found is so rare in Britain that we feel this could not have been an accident,” she told the Telegraph.

“Her bags with her drinks in were often left unattended in the players’ lounge and someone could have taken the opportunity to contaminate her drink.”

No arrests have been made, reports the Press Association.

“The allegation was received by officers on August 5 with the incident alleged to have taken place at an address in Wimbledon between July 1-10. The victim was taken ill on July 6. It is unknown where or when the poison was ingested,” a police spokesman said. 

“The victim, an 18-year-old woman, received hospital treatment and is still recovering.”

But the young player appears to be on the road to recovery.

On Wednesday she tweeted:

 

Sarah Harris1   |   August 5, 2016   10:57 AM ET

Our best and brightest sporting stars are gearing up for the Rio 2016 Olympics - but Andy Murray hasn’t quite kicked things off as we’d hoped.

The Wimbledon champion has been chosen as the flag-bearer for Team GB, an honour previously bestowed upon the likes of Steve Redgrave, Chris Hoy and Matthew Pinsent.

But during a photoshoot, Murray didn’t quite appear to have full control of the flag.

At one point it even looked like Princess Anne might even get a smack in the face from the standard.

But the royal took his fumbling in good humour and appeared to poke fun at the tennis star, bobbing out of site behind the flag and pulling faces.

The official Royal Family Twitter account also poked fun at the tennis champ:

 Poor old Andy, even his own mother had a dig at him:

Murray, who won a gold medal at London 2012 in the men’s singles, will carry the flag for Great Britain in Friday night’s opening ceremony.

According to the BBC, he said of the position: “To lead out Team GB will be an incredible honour, the biggest in sport.”

He said that he had “great memories” of the London 2012 games, adding: “The privilege of being the flag bearer is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life and will certainly be one of the highlights of my career.”

Just maybe have a little practice with the flag before Friday evening, eh Andy?

Murray will face Serbia’s Victor Troicki in his first Olympic singles match on Sunday.

He is also competing alongside his brother Jamie in the men’s doubles event.

Serena Williams Is My Hero!

Martyn Stewart   |   July 11, 2016   11:21 AM ET

Perception is everything.

First of all, don't jump on me for not using the word 'heroine' in the title. I know some will, but playing the politically correct game of appeasement by referencing Serena's gender is missing the point. An argument pitting men and women against each other in a battle for equality and respect is not what this is about.

2016-07-11-1468231914-9542814-Serena.jpg


If I have to identify your race, gender, social class, physical characteristics or public perception in order to make my intended point poignantly enough, (or for people to take notice), then the equality you seek is still way off - and the use of 'appropriate adjectives' aren't going to swing the balance.

However, perception is everything.

A hero is defined in many ways, such as 'aiding the lives of others through selfless accomplishments or overcoming adversity linked to bravery, skill or strength.' Historically, hero depictions tended to be literary works describing feats of real, or imaginary, male characters embodying all, or part, of this description. We all know that most people mentally process information in a way that suits them.

However, I'm not responsible for the decisions of those who choose to typecast men in the role of hero; nor the cognitive priming that exists within the entertainment and media portrayals which habitually exploit this trend today without conscious thought.

But, perception is everything.

I obviously have opinions on gender, race-relations, politics and social class but so do the seven billion others on the planet. The socially sensitive topics of conversation in 2016, dominated by US presidential campaigns, police brutality and EU referendums has opinions running wild on the tips of tongues worldwide; however, that's a market I don't want to trade in.

Opinions are often an abomination of misinterpreted or misguided social constructions masquerading in the minds of individuals as fact.

However, perception is everything

Sometimes, sports can give us a welcome escape. Serena Williams has just become arguably the greatest athlete in her world-renowned discipline. Not just in opinion but in facts. Yet the global recognition in comparison has been lacking parity based on this objective measure.

I shouldn't have to say my hero is a black, female, working class, physically impressive individual, who overcame tragedy and adversity, yet divides public perception, for it to resonate or have gravitas. I didn't write this to engage any argumentative back and forth, I wrote it for Serena. In the hope, that amongst the divided public opinion she might see, objectively, what she has done.

My hero overcame obstacles impeding the path. Many didn't want that hero to succeed or reach the pinnacle, often casting them as the villain. Three times prior, they fell when the opportunity presented itself. Some laughed. Analysts correctly highlighted that the unstoppable force of time is the hero's enemy. Yet still, they were undeterred.

I can only speculate what the response would have been if the hero had faltered again. Regardless, they would have remained inspirational to me. Not everybody is aware that the hero doesn't always have to 'win' in the objective manner. Many of my heroes didn't win. When obstacles include rejection, socio-psychological inhibitions, self-doubt and marginalisation amongst other things, 'winning' takes on many forms; such as just 'being there' when the reverberating undercurrent suggests that you're not 'entitled' to.

But, perception is everything.

I would be lying if I said my personal characteristics, experiences and opinions that make me identify with Serena, aren't influential. No doubt the additional understanding from my own background adds depth to this hero depiction. However, that story is for another day. Our perceptions, as fallible men and women, can lie but numbers don't. 22 and counting. Even without my technicoloured insight of identification; today, this achievement should make Serena everybody's hero. But she isn't.

Nevertheless, Serena's objective achievement, free from my biased perspective, has positively, (and productively), energised my educational and psychological teachings for a very long time - especially today. She has fulfilled the criteria for hero in my mind. Her achievements have enriched the lives of others and she should enjoy this moment. Most heroes don't even know they are such. They're just 'normal' people doing things that are 'normal' to them. Others just perceive them to be heroic, most of the time when the hero didn't ask for it. That is where much of the burden comes for them. However, their continuation in the face of this is what provides us with hope...

But then again, perception is everything!

Louise Ridley   |   July 9, 2016    3:13 PM ET

Serena Williams has soared into the record books by winning the Wimbledon women’s singles final, equalling the record for the most grand slams ever won by one player.

Williams beat Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the final. It makes her total 22 Grand Slams, matching the record held by held by German player Steffi Graf.

This is Williams’ seventh Wimbledon title. She won the first set 7-5 and the second 6-3.

Meanwhile the men’s wheelchair doubles finals were won by a British duo for the very first time.

The pictures below capture the dramatic Williams vs Kerber match - as well as celebrities including David Attenborough and Beyonce in the audience.

Sarah Harris1   |   July 9, 2016    2:44 PM ET

Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett have become the first Brits to win the men’s wheelchair doubles title at Wimbledon.

The pair beat the top seeds, France’s Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 4-6 6-1 7-6 (8-6), the BBC reported.

Reid will also play in the inaugural men’s wheelchair singles final on Sunday.

Wheelchair doubles has been played at the tournament in SW19 for a decade but it was only this year that a singles competition was introduced.

A number of sportspeople tweeted their admiration for the winners...

 

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon also tweeted her congratulations:

Many others on Twitter also celebrated the win and described the pair as inspirational...

Tennis fans will be hoping for another British victory on Sunday as Andy Murray faces Canadian Milos Raonic in the men’s singles final on Centre Court.

Murray beat the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych on Friday, while Raonic saw off Switzerland’s Roger Federer in a tense match.

On Saturday the women’s finals also saw Serena Williams beat Angelique Kerber to gain a seventh women’s singles win.

The US star beat her German opponent 7-5, 6-3.

The Data Game

Nicholas Shaw   |   July 8, 2016   11:39 AM ET

Like most kids, I spent many a day dream winning trophies and representing my country on various sporting battlefields. Like most adults, I spend many an hour shouting at or cheering on the men and women who actually made those dreams a reality.

Over a long career of sporting fandom, I've noticed, it really isn't like the old days. With science, data and professionalism - sport has moved from art and instinct to a quantifiable and calculable formula. Whilst the fairy dust of talent and the dog work of grit does still grace every sport, science, rigour and above all measurement is shaping athletes and helping them to gain that competitive edge.

If you've seen the film Moneyball, or read the book, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Moneyball documented how the unfashionable, impoverished and unsuccessful Oakland Athletics baseball team managed to win 20 consecutive games with an unorthodox analytics-based approach to selecting players.

Sports and athlete data is improving performance and proving to be a competitive advantage. It's keeping athletes healthier for longer, contributing to numerous innovations in equipment, environments and safety, and it's become a vital part of media content, distribution and fan engagement. Desk side chats about the weekend's rugby just wouldn't be the same without the break down in meters carried, tackles made, which makes my punditry look far more informed than I deserve.

This season I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time at rugby team, London Irish's grounds in Reading. Speaking with the team there gave a real insight into how data in sport is evolving. The data collected is a mix of qualitative self-assessment from the players, considering sleep, muscle soreness, stress levels and a general wellness score. This is combined with objective data taken directly from each player's GPS unit, in-game and training performance. The objective analytic data is combined with the subjective self-assessments to create what is known as an RPE figure - a rate of perceived exertion. If the players are running more and their RPE is going down, the training is going well and they're getting fitter. A reverse score can suggest long-term fatigue or overtraining.

But the impact doesn't stop at the sport itself, it's also opening up new revenue streams and growing the sports betting industry at a rapid rate. As data makes its way into the profit and loss columns of sports business balance sheets attitudes to data protection and management are becoming more grown up too.

Earlier this year the International Tennis Federation (ITF), signed a $70 million deal with data company Sportradar to give exclusive access to real-time scores and statistics. For the ITF, theft or loss of that data would represent a huge risk to one of their most significant revenue streams, and thus the future of Tennis' governing body.

When it comes to performance data, the tracking of this for competitive advantage raises the thorny issue of cheating. If data really is the difference between victory and defeat, then knowing your enemy could be incredibly valuable. The secrecy we see already in Formula One around the designs of cars and the information gathered from the sensors about design performance and driver behaviour could become the standard.

If somehow gleaning data on your opposition could help you plan a strategy to overcome them, protecting that becomes vital. However where we're more likely to see impact is in contracts. If you're trying to sell a player, or if a sports person is trying to negotiate a new contract, information on their performance, propensity to injury and even predictions on future performance will affect their value and how those negotiations play out.

Like any other business, the data within the sports industry could be exposed to hacking risks. Last year Tour de France cyclist Chris Frome was subject to a data hack. Personal performance data of a ride that was central to his victory in the Tour that year was stolen and began to appear on social networks in an effort to discredit him, suggesting he had been doping to achieve that level of performance. But it's not only archive data that is vulnerable.

Most athletes wear some kind of wearable technology and research from the Symantec Threat Intelligence team has found that these devices have multiple security risks. With a cheaply built Bluetooth scanners our intelligence team was able to sit at the end of a park run race and 'sniff up' the data from wearables worn by amateur runners. The over the air communications between wearables / GPS units and smartphone apps or servers processing and storing information can often be a weak point. This connection can provide access to logins and security credentials and also allow for hackers to force commands through to the server for execution - exposing the potential for a major security breach.

With more and more sensitive athlete data gathered and revenue streams at risk, sporting organisations could be exposed to the kind of hacks we're seeing across all manner of different companies. However in sport there's a tension between the desire to expose this information in the name of fan engagement and entertainment, and a desire to keep things secretive. In the future timing and access will be everything and I for one can't wait to see how it plays out.

The Data Game

Nicholas Shaw   |   July 7, 2016   11:32 AM ET

Like most kids, I spent many a day dream winning trophies and representing my country on various sporting battlefields. Like most adults, I spend many an hour shouting at or cheering on the men and women who actually made those dreams a reality.

Over a long career of sporting fandom, I've noticed, it really isn't like the old days. With science, data and professionalism - sport has moved from art and instinct to a quantifiable and calculable formula. Whilst the fairy dust of talent and the dog work of grit does still grace every sport, science, rigour and above all measurement is shaping athletes and helping them to gain that competitive edge.

If you've seen the film Moneyball, or read the book, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Moneyball documented how the unfashionable, impoverished and unsuccessful Oakland Athletics baseball team managed to win 20 consecutive games with an unorthodox analytics-based approach to selecting players.

Sports and athlete data is improving performance and proving to be a competitive advantage. It's keeping athletes healthier for longer, contributing to numerous innovations in equipment, environments and safety, and it's become a vital part of media content, distribution and fan engagement. Desk side chats about the weekend's rugby just wouldn't be the same without the break down in meters carried, tackles made, which makes my punditry look far more informed than I deserve.

This season I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time at rugby team, London Irish's grounds in Reading. Speaking with the team there gave a real insight into how data in sport is evolving. The data collected is a mix of qualitative self-assessment from the players, considering sleep, muscle soreness, stress levels and a general wellness score. This is combined with objective data taken directly from each player's GPS unit, in-game and training performance. The objective analytic data is combined with the subjective self-assessments to create what is known as an RPE figure - a rate of perceived exertion. If the players are running more and their RPE is going down, the training is going well and they're getting fitter. A reverse score can suggest long-term fatigue or overtraining.

But the impact doesn't stop at the sport itself, it's also opening up new revenue streams and growing the sports betting industry at a rapid rate. As data makes its way into the profit and loss columns of sports business balance sheets attitudes to data protection and management are becoming more grown up too.

Earlier this year the International Tennis Federation (ITF), signed a $70 million deal with data company Sportradar to give exclusive access to real-time scores and statistics. For the ITF, theft or loss of that data would represent a huge risk to one of their most significant revenue streams, and thus the future of Tennis' governing body.

When it comes to performance data, the tracking of this for competitive advantage raises the thorny issue of cheating. If data really is the difference between victory and defeat, then knowing your enemy could be incredibly valuable. The secrecy we see already in Formula One around the designs of cars and the information gathered from the sensors about design performance and driver behaviour could become the standard.

If somehow gleaning data on your opposition could help you plan a strategy to overcome them, protecting that becomes vital. However where we're more likely to see impact is in contracts. If you're trying to sell a player, or if a sports person is trying to negotiate a new contract, information on their performance, propensity to injury and even predictions on future performance will affect their value and how those negotiations play out.

Like any other business, the data within the sports industry could be exposed to hacking risks. Last year Tour de France cyclist Chris Frome was subject to a data hack. Personal performance data of a ride that was central to his victory in the Tour that year was stolen and began to appear on social networks in an effort to discredit him, suggesting he had been doping to achieve that level of performance. But it's not only archive data that is vulnerable.

Most athletes wear some kind of wearable technology and research from the Symantec Threat Intelligence team has found that these devices have multiple security risks. With a cheaply built Bluetooth scanners our intelligence team was able to sit at the end of a park run race and 'sniff up' the data from wearables worn by amateur runners. The over the air communications between wearables / GPS units and smartphone apps or servers processing and storing information can often be a weak point. This connection can provide access to logins and security credentials and also allow for hackers to force commands through to the server for execution - exposing the potential for a major security breach.

With more and more sensitive athlete data gathered and revenue streams at risk, sporting organisations could be exposed to the kind of hacks we're seeing across all manner of different companies. However in sport there's a tension between the desire to expose this information in the name of fan engagement and entertainment, and a desire to keep things secretive. In the future timing and access will be everything and I for one can't wait to see how it plays out.

Give Bojo a Second Shot - Wimbledon Season Is an Opportunity for Boris Johnson to Play Tennis and Have Another Revelation

Ania Poullain-Majchrzak   |   July 6, 2016    2:04 PM ET

According to his sister Rachel Johnson and her article in the Daily Mail, Boris Johnson decided about his stand on Brexit over a tennis game. Rachel drove to see her brother on the 20th of February. It was a day before he gave his statement to the media saying that he will vote to leave the EU in the coming referendum. Miss Johnson claims that the revelation about his stand on Brexit had occurred during the game of tennis they had that afternoon.

One would assume that it was a rather opportunistic decision as opposed to an actual decision based on belief but the good news is that according to George W Bush 'America is the land of the second chance - and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.' Well, if the US can subscribe to such a philosophy then why can't the UK?

I'm very fond of Mr Bush's reflection and would argue that not only in America but anywhere in the world in most disciplines of life you get a second shot chance. Take food, even if you went wrong with a starter, you still have the main course to settle matters (and the dessert - that must be the third chance!). Or religion - the worlds leading orthodoxies offer up another opportunity if you waste your life, through the possibilities of reincarnation and heaven etc.

As we can see from the above it gets even better the second time round, therefore, why not open the metaphorical prison gates for Boris Johnson, and let him have another shot? Seeing as the political turmoil coincides with the Wimbledon season perhaps he could take advantage of that and travel back to the moment when he got the whole avalanche started and indulge in another game of tennis.

When it comes to choosing his tennis partner, I dare suggest that it would be only fair that this time he plays with a writer from a publication polar in opinion to the Daily Mail, so as to help foster the right environment for more moderate political decision making. As I'm very pleased and excited to have found out that the most important political decisions can be made while practicing my favourite sport, I would be very pleased to invite Mr Boris Johnson to a casual game of tennis.

Although it might seem too late to unscrew the whole crisis caused by the Brexit referendum, at the present situation, Mr Johnson doesn't have anything to loose and he might be ready for some drastic moves that will only emphasise his eccentric branding. Further to this, looking at the demand of the general public, the likelihood of a new poll is very high (even Rich Richard Branson is having coffee with Mother Theresa May about it). It is a perfect opportunity for Boris to go back on his words and re-campaign. There is still a chance for him to gain the legacy he desires by campaigning for the situation where everybody in the country, including himself, will be all smiles.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing a clip of Mr Johnson playing against David Cameron at the International Paralympic Day in Trafalgar Square on YouTube and I would dare to presume that he looks like a considerate but entertaining tennis partner.

Rosy Cherrington   |   June 30, 2016    9:57 AM ET

This year's official Wimbledon dress by Nike is causing a bit of a stir among female players, with some even refusing to wear it.

Due to the floaty fabric and loose shape, its design has been likened to a "baby doll nightie" and is distracting tennis stars by flying up during play.

Players have resorted to tying headbands around the dress to keep it down, wearing tops over it and leggings underneath.

British player Katie Swan was seen visibly struggling with her dress, tucking it into her shorts to stop it from flying up during her match on Tuesday 29 June and commentators suggested that the distraction was to blame for her loss.

German player Sabine Lisicki refused to wear the £75 dress, while American star Serena Williams, who is sponsored by Nike, had an alternative design custom made for her.

Rebecca Peterson of Sweden told the NY Times that despite the dress being "simple", the dress was "flying everywhere".

"When I was serving, it was coming up, and I felt like the dress was just everywhere," she said.

After qualifying rounds, Nike asked players to send in their dresses to have the slits on each side sewn up.

A Nike spokesman said at the time: "The product has not been recalled and we often customise products and make alterations for athletes as they compete.

"We work closely with our athletes to provide them with product that helps them perform and feel their best on the court."

But not every female player disliked the controversial dress.

Eugenie Bouchard defended the design to the NY Times, saying: "For me, I love it. It's nice and short so you can move around and be free with your movements.

"Yeah, I don't know. It's funny that people paid a lot of attention to it, but I really think it's really nice."