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2020’s Multisport Movers and Shakers: George Gilbert

Today we’re highlighting an engineer who is working to keep the growing industry of virtual racing fair.

After a very weird 2020, we’re (finally) now headed into 2021—but there are still a lot of questions left unanswered, in the world and in our sport. Who will help shape triathlon? Who are the people working in front of and behind the scenes to do exciting, new, or interesting things? Who should you keep your eye on in the next multisport year?

We racked our brains, scoured the tri-space, and came up with this varied list of multisport movers and shakers—all of whom we’re looking forward to watching in 2021. We can’t wait to see what they do and how they change the sport in the year ahead. We’ve been revealing one person at a time, but Active Pass members can view the entire list right now. Today we’re highlighting an engineer who is working to keep the growing industry of virtual racing fair.

George Gilbert

46 | London, England
Chair, Zwift Cycling Esports Commission

Over the past few years, Zwift has gone from a gamification tool to make indoor rides more enjoyable to the central software in an eSports landscape that may soon make it to the Olympic level. While eSports were already on a steady, upward trajectory, the COVID-19 pandemic and its restriction on in-person events have thrust it into the forefront. Case in point: the first-ever UCI Cycling eSports World Championships, set to take place on Dec. 8-9.

While ensuring fair competition is key to the mainstream success of any sport, it’s especially important in a format that relies on both proper equipment setup as well as reliable technology—in addition to human athletic ability, of course. In addition to ZADA (Zwift Accuracy and Data Analysis), Zwift has created the Zwift Cycling eSports Commission—which George Gilbert chairs. With 25 years of experience in sports governance and a full-time role as a software engineer (he also has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics), Gilbert is driving the sport’s refereeing and trying to keep up with its fast-paced growth. 

Right now Gilbert and the Zwift team spend a lot of energy setting up technical guides for athletes, ensuring they have the proper setup, combing through results looking for errors, and even thwarting blatant cheating efforts. Gilbert’s biggest role is creating a system that requires less manpower to ensure fair results. It’s a tall task, but one Gilbert is excited to take on. “At the moment it might take us two to three days to get the results of a race out,” Gilbert said. “That’s fine for doing these one-off races, but if we’re truly going to scale up and have many races a day that have this same level of verification, then the investment in the backend computing power to be able to do that verification without huge amounts of manpower behind it is going to be critical.”

Related for Active Pass Members: The Complete List of 2020’s Multisport Movers and Shakers