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SP Sian Barris“I chose Otago because of its reputation for being the best physical education school in the country.

“I initially found out about Phys Ed school from an Otago University Information day at my high school when I was in Year 12 at Otumoetai College in Tauranga. Up until that point I wanted to study physiotherapy. I’d had so many injuries as an athlete and spent so much time in physio that I thought I’d like to work with other athletes and help treat their injuries and then at the career day I found out that if I went to Phys Ed school I could study anatomy, biomechanics, motor control and motor learning and help athletes in so many different ways.

“After I completed my honours thesis, I decided to stay on and do my Master’s. The aim of my Master’s thesis was to develop an automated tracking system for analysing team sports. I had an incredible software engineer Gavin Kennedy and Chris Button as my supervisor and together we managed to develop the A-Eye program. We secured a camera in the roof of the Edgar Centre and I spent many nights up in the roof tracking the Otago Nuggets basketball games. Using movement recognition software we were able to identify all the moving objects on the court and then scan the colours of their uniforms to separate them into different teams. From here we could track each player’s movements around the court and determine where they went during the game, how long they spent in each zone and how fast they travelled.

“Once I finished my Master’s I was offered a 1 year scholarship in the Biomechanics Department at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. From there I was offered a sports-based PhD scholarship in Brisbane with the Australian Institute of Sport, Queensland University of Technology and Diving Australia, which is where I am now. As part of my scholarship I work closely with the head coach Hui Tong and his athletes and provide daily sport science and technical support (biomechanics, performance analysis and skill acquisition) to the AIS and Australian Diving teams. I also am very lucky that I get to use these elite divers as my participants for my PhD research.”