MONCTON – Last year, François Gazzano was casually sipping coffee alongside other participants at the international Olympics Committee World Conference in Monaco. It turns out, the person sitting next to him would land his Moncton-based company FITSTATS Technologies a contract with the Norwegian Olympic Team.
“I had a little chat with this guy. In fact, he was one of the sports scientists for the Norwegian Olympic program. So we exchanged a couple of niceties and he asked me what do you do. I told him about AthleteMonitoring.com,” he said in a recent interview with Huddle. “I called the guy back in August and he saw the system. They tested it, and they liked it.”
FITSTATS’ injury tracking platform is now being used by the Norwegian Olympic Centre and Team Norway, which won a record 39 medals in PyeongChang this year.
“Given the fact that they had an amazing Olympics, we feel very fortunate. Very, very proud because it just illustrates that the system that we created, that we built, with people from Moncton, and even Fredericton and Halifax now – a New Brunswick product – can be used by the best Olympic team in the world,” Gazzano said.
Athletes can use AthleteMonitoring.com’s app on their phones to monitor, analyze and interpret their load, risk, wellness, training, health, testing, and performance data anytime and anywhere.
Their coaches and trainers can study their data on an online platform and enhance their training regimen to boost performance and prevent injuries. The platform is currently being used by CSKA Moscow, one of the top basketball teams in the EuroLeague, Basketball New Zealand, sailing team LandRover BAR, the McLaren car racing team, the Winnipeg Jets and various varsity programs in North America.
The company has also forged a partnership with the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre, an excellence centre for FIFA and International Olympic Committee research, to commercialize a new injury surveillance system being developed there. It’s a questionnaire-based tool that athletes can complete on their smartphones. When the data is entered, the tool automatically alerts medical professionals when an athlete needs attention.
The injury surveillance system is already being used in several countries. But a tool is needed to automate its administration. This is where FITSTATS comes in.
“That’s one of the best research centres in the world for sports injuries. And having them picking us to develop the thing with them and not asking us for any money or anything after we’re finished, and we can sell it to anyone we want, that’s privilege. It’s very fortunate, it’s a great chance to be working with those guys,” Gazzano said.
Once the platform and app are built, Gazzano plans to test them in the next two weeks with a few Olympic teams and Norwegian sports federations.
“And then after of course, once we know the system works very well, the plan is to go to present it to FIFA and to the big large, international sports federations and offer it,” he said.
Gazzano is from France and came to Canada for university. He had played and coached various sports. He studied sports science in Montreal and worked as a strength and conditioning coach and athlete monitoring consultant in Europe and North America for about 15 years. That’s when he came across the idea for Fitstats Technologies, which he founded in 2000.
“I needed a software to do the thing I wanted to do as a professional, I needed a tool to track training data and to give me some alerts when a player needs attention,” he said. “So I hired a programmer to make a very draft prototype and I used that for a few years.”
I think a lot of athletes are getting injured where they shouldn’t be. There are many, many times that there are training errors, recovery problems, that can be avoided and now I’m building the kind of tool that can prevent those things,” he said.
Gazzano launched his company with FITSTATS Wellness, a fitness assessment software sold to U.S. schools. In 2004, he rolled out AthleteMonitoring.com. The version of the platform in the market now was released in 2015, with modifications made continuously. Sales have been close to double annually for the past few years, he said. FITSTATS has three full-time developers and six distributors in countries including the U.K., India, Australia and the U.S., among others.