Creating an infrastructure to support the Olympic Games takes a Herculean effort, a feat that astounds the masses every time the opening ceremonies commence. Short timelines, tight budgets, and last-minute snafus are a given, which is why many Olympic committees lean heavily on global sports and mega-events researchers like Trofym Anderson, GW BBA ’14, MTA ’15 to collect data that will inform a more efficient execution of the games.
To that end, Trofym conducted data capture for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Trofym and his team were assigned to collect stats on allocated security portals [walk-through metal detectors], athlete seating, accredited parking spots—and how many of each are actually being used. “Our research will serve as guidance for future organizing committees to help cut costs,” says Trofym. “I’d say my biggest discovery thus far has been how many security portals are purchased for the games. It’s truly amazing what’s required to stage the 17-day spectacle.”
This year marks Trofym’s third stint as a researcher at an Olympic event. As a student at GW, he attended both the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics with associate professor of sports management Lisa Delpy Neirotti. “[In Sochi], I focused my research on Canada’s Olympic sport funding arm, Own the Podium,” says Trofym. “In London, the research we did was primarily focused on spectator experience and engagement.”
It was, in fact, his time in London that cemented Trofym’s decision to align his career with the Olympic Movement, an IOC initiative that supports the games, the Olympic Charter, and Olympism philosophy.
“Professor Neirotti is unlike any other professor at GW,” says Trofym. “After going to London, then subsequently taking classes with her, I was hooked on the Olympic Movement and [Professor Neirotti’s] work.” He credits Professor Neirotti with having a major impact on where he is today. “It’s difficult to find a sports management program combined with a business degree, especially one that offers such unique experiences as traveling to the Olympic Games. Professor Neirotti has a wealth of knowledge and has certainly shaped my career path.”
While Trofym specializes in researching Olympic-caliber events, he is no stranger to competing as an athlete on the world stage. During his freshman year in high school, he began rowing with a Canadian team, and in 11th grade he transferred to the best and most accomplished rowing high school in Canada. As a result of his achievements at the club level and Junior World Championships, he was accepted to GW on a rowing scholarship, where he stroked the varsity boat all four of his undergraduate years. In 2014, Trofym raced with Canada’s Under-23 National Team and won a Gold Medal in the coxed four event at the Under-23 World Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy.
“Becoming a world champion was indescribable,” says Trofym. “To this day, I still remember being speechless when we crossed the line first. To be honest, it really didn’t set in until a few weeks later.”
After graduating with a master’s degree in tourism administration from GW in May 2015, Trofym settled in Victoria, British Columbia, to train full-time with the Canadian national team. “I trained and rowed competitively until this past July when I crossed off my final bucket list regatta, Royal Henley, in England,” he says. “Funny enough, my other bucket list regatta was the San Diego Crew Classic, which I was able to attend with GW back in the spring of 2014.” Trofym notes that it was the first time GW raced in the event, which was a particularly meaningful way for one of his dreams to come true.
Now focused on research, Trofym describes his experience in Rio as a chance to go behind the scenes at the Olympics. Upon arriving at the event two weeks early, many of the venues still needed signage, and construction was not yet complete. “It really didn’t feel like the Olympic City,” he says. “But this experience has given me a two-week period to see buildings being finished, signs going up, and ultimately gain a new perspective on what goes into preparing for the games.”
Trofym feels the media has given Rio a lot of bad coverage, as it has been known to do with prior Olympic venues. “Definitely don’t believe everything you see in the media,” he cautions. “The IOC and Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games always come together in the last few weeks to put on an incredible spectacle for athletes and spectators.”