15 April 2010
A man from the Small Heath area of Birmingham has devised a world leading performance aid which is set to take centre stage at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Maz Raza, who works for the UK’s Governing Body for athletics (UKA) in Solihull as a Performance Technology Analyst, developed the system to help the World Governing Body for Paralympic athletics – the IPC - score athletes’ performances in major championships.
The system will be used to help officials score performances when athletes have differing levels of disability and in recognition of Maz’s work, the project has been named ‘The Raza System’.
In developing the new system, the key goal, according to Raza, was to establish something that allowed the calculation of points in order to enable direct comparison of performances, independent of classification or other event specific criteria. “It had to be a fair and stable system, flexible and transparent, and useable,” he said.
The previous system used at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games had been in place for a number of years and following consultations across the globe, the IPC felt there was a need to update or replace it. Submissions were made from across the world of athletics before the IPC decided that the Raza System was the most successful model.
“One of my most significant challenges, along with the lack of data, was that the IPC wanted the system to be reversible,” said Raza, whose system will now be used at all IPC major championships through to London 2012. “They didn’t just want a conversion of performance into points, but also points into performance, which meant I had to research different models in engineering and computer science.”
“I think there should be further research done on the existing classifications to come up with a grading system to determine the level of performance an athlete is capable of achieving,” he added. “A medical science focus would be beneficial in this overall process and would help us identify what performances are possible which in turn will help identify where elite athletes are missing in certain classifications.”
25-year-old Raza, who moved to the UK from Pakistan to study for an MSc in Management in 2007, has now proposed to the IPC that the official system should be evolved to include non-elite level groups to support talent spotting in athletics. The process is now under consideration and will be trialled in the UK this summer.
Dan West, a multiple Paralympian in the shot putt and discus, said: “Thanks to the Raza System we can be confident that a very sound points scoring model will be in place come London 2012. Our elite athletes will be raising their game as we approach the Paralympic Games and we need to be sure that the competition is fair and clear cut to ensure they are rewarded with the performances they deserve.”
“Not only that, but as the system is further developed I hope we can begin to identify talent at the development side of the sport and explore both the quality and quantity of athletes in classifications where we might currently be weak.
“Maz’s work in this area is truly a world class development and the new Raza System not only improves the competition for Paralympic athletes but is inspirational as it demonstrates the level of expertise we have working in sport in this country.”
Raza concluded: “I’m really proud to have been involved in the development of the model, especially in the knowledge that I’m genuinely contributing to London 2012.”
Click here to hear Maz interviewed on BBC Radio. Click through to ‘Listen now’ on BBC WM's Breakfast Show and scroll through to 1:19:00-1:20:00 when the business update starts.
The Raza System is based on the following data and statistical analysis:
• All available IPC data from previous Paralympic Games and World Championships (2000 onwards) has been statistically analysed and is used as the basic platform for points calculation;
• The IPC world rankings from 2004 were also used to map trends for each single class;
• Each event and class has their own specific trend;
• A common statistical model (the Raza System uses the Gompertz function which is a form of the Sigmoid function) was used to map each event and class specific trend:
The statistical model was applied to all classes and provides a point score based on comparative performances;
The model is also predictive and is therefore able to provide a score in the event that a new world record is achieved in any given class;
The model takes into account the population size of each class, set against the available performance data.
• Every year there will be an analysis of the results, with updates being applied to the Raza System by UKA in conjunction with the IPC.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games takes place from 29 August 2012 – 9 September 2012.