With less than 500 days until London 2012, it is not just the athletes themselves who are gearing up for the competition – the sport science and medical support teams are also preparing for next summer. Dr Ken van Someren, Director of Sport Science at the English Institute of Sport (EIS), explains more about the work of these behind-the-scenes staff.
As the clock ticks towards the London 2012 next year, it’s not just the athletes and coaches putting their training and competition plans in place to fit the Olympic schedule, which was released last month.
The sport science and medical support teams behind the sports are now well underway in planning the final year’s work in an Olympic and Paralympic cycle – arguably one of the most exciting and demanding cycles the EIS has worked through yet.
The EIS itself is moving into its tenth year of operation and we’ve seen phenomenal developments in the field of sport science, in particular in the years following the announcement in Singapore that the 2012 Games were coming to London.
Sport Science first emerged as an academic discipline in the 1970s but with the evolution of sports performance programmes, athletes, coaches and performance staff now want applied technical solutions to performance-driven questions in order to keep ahead of the competition.
The breadth of home grown talent we employ as part of our support team demonstrates how widely applied sport science has now become, and in no doubt it has been stimulated by the prospect of a home Games. For many practitioners, the hours, days and months spent travelling away with squads working towards the Olympics, as it is with any major event, prove extremely gratifying – but even more so now that it’s a home Games.
Sport science is truly coming of age and in our world the legacy of 2012 will be seen through the step change in knowledge and practice achieved through the increased funding, energy and focus which has been afforded to the Institute structure. We will see better informed professional standards and training, improved standards of best practice, greater applied research and significant advancements in product development. 2012 has prompted greater collaboration between industry, academia and high performance sport, contributing to the significant gains in knowledge and expertise being applied to the country’s top athletes.
Our assets are our people and the opportunity that London 2012 has given them to make a difference at a home Games will remain with them for their lifetime.