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Did Anybody See Me Break The World Record?

This is a story about IT in use at a major sports event. Any similarity with actual events, past or future, is unintentional.


Verain Colt entered the stadium. It was just after midday and the sun was shining harshly overhead. Unusually for London the temperature was a sub-tropical 31 degrees Celsius, so he had been extra careful to keep hydrated. His main event this afternoon was the Men's 100 yard dash. It was scheduled for 1400 hours, so he had just under 120 minutes to compose himself and prepare mentally. It was only the semi-final, but three of his main competitors were there and he had to be careful not to get psyched out before the main action.

Curt, his personal coach, was pacing nervously back and forth nearby trying to get his own emotions under control. He had just finished a call to Louise, the Men's Athletics manager on the National Committee, who wanted to know if Verain would be available for a Q&A with the press outside the stadium in half an hour. Earlier he had spoken to his commercial agent who had promised a major bonus if Verain went on to win the final, but apologetically had announced that the standing sponsorship agreement would see the monthly retainer cut by 50%. The excuse was the depressed economy, which could not sustain extravagant advertising campaigns. This was bad news as he knew Verain would need the press coverage, but equally he needed to win, so he had decided to decline the Q&A.

Across the stadium the long jump team was preparing for their own event, when one of them had the idea to speak to Verain to get a wish of good luck and to seek some much needed moral support. Curt had been in two minds about handing his phone to Verain. He did not want to upset his thought processes. In the end he had interupted Verain and the phone call had lasted 10 minutes. Verain had seemed pleased.

Across the country, attending a different discipline, the National Team logistics manager needed to know if an extra-ordinary evening roll-call could be arranged and was calling all participating athletes, one by one, to get their agreement. Mostly she spoke to the personal or team coaches, who had all promissed to get back to her later. But she had asked for a 1900 hours meeting kick-off and she was getting increasingly stressed out that she was getting no immediate reaction. There were important messages about meals to announce and she knew the meeting absolutely had to take place.

Just before 1400 hours the power supply to the broadcasting station was cut. No-one knew why, as all road-works within ten miles had been banned during the event and the power was working elsewhere in the stadium. The power installations were brand new and should not be prone to malfunction.

While the technicians were working feverishly, the 100 yard dash took place. Verain won in World Record time and by a margin so large it would not likely be repeated at the final! Across the country and around the world TV newscasters were debating the contestants in studio discussions in the absence of a live TV feed. TV journalists at the event took to using their mobile phone cameras to capture the sprint and were now busily uploading the video clips to their respective news organisations. This resulted in a massive mobile phone outage, as the specially erected phone antennas at the stadium had been dimensioned for voice calls and not for thousands of simultaneous video feeds.

Later in the afternoon, Louise was racing back to London to get to the 1900 hours meeting. She had prepared an agenda, but had been cut from the Internet while in transit. She hastily printed out 45 copies at the team event office before running to the meeting room at 1901 hours. Catching her breath in the room, she realised that only half the National Team was present. The rest had not received the information or were out celebrating with Verain. Lousie cut the meeting short; she knew she would have to call it again tomorrow to get her message out.



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