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A Man thing

Isla Scott is counting the days till the Isle of Man TT races begin.  She tells Ian A McMillan what makes the event so special

Mention the Isle of Man TT (tourist trophy) races to most motorcycling aficionados and they’re guaranteed to go misty-eyed with nostalgia and excitement.  

With roots lying in the early 1900s, the world-famous event transforms the rugged island located in the Irish Sea every summer – with the population doubling as thousands of competitors and spectators pour in from the mainland and beyond.

Millions more around the world watch on television.

Locally-based physio Isla Scott admits she gets caught up in the fervour surrounding the TT event. ‘It’s just so exhilarating.

The revving of the engines from 100 bikes on the start line is amazing. They go off every 10 seconds and you can literally feel the vibrations.

‘When they touch the riders on the shoulder to tell them to go, you know it’s the last time you might see them. The boys that do it are attracted by the fact that there’s no safety net.’

Indeed, when this year’s races kick off on 25 May, Mrs Scott will be playing a key role – poised under an awning in the riders’ paddock ready to treat any battered and bruised riders.

Baptism of fire

For the past few years, Scott Physiotherapy has been the official physio service for the TT races and two other annual motorcycling events on the island, the Southern 100 and the Manx Grand Prix.

‘It’s something that evolved gradually,’ Mrs Scott says. ‘One of the riders, who had a severe injury at the time, invited me to come up to the paddock in 2007, the TT’s centenary year.’

The dates for the TT fortnight are highlighted on Mrs Scott’s calendar as soon as they are announced.

She works in the paddock alongside her husband Ben, a sports massage practitioner, who’s also charged with keeping an eye on their son.

At just six years old, like most Manx people, Ralph is an enthusiastic TT follower.

Mrs Scott’s main clinic is in Peel on the Isle of Man’s west coast and she has another in the capital Douglas on the east coast.

The team’s comprised of the Scotts and two physios and motorbike enthusiasts, Cath Davis and Chloë James, who also help out at the TT races.

‘There’s nothing flash or high-tech at the clinics,’ says Mrs Scott. ‘Most of the work with these boys is very hands-on, very manual. They get a lot of fascial restrictions – stiff necks and backs, for example.’

Since 2008, Mrs Scott has also worked with an Italian medical team at World Superbike championship events in England and Portugal. ‘I’m the only Brit working with Clinica Mobile. It’s been a baptism of fire but I learned an awful lot.

‘The circuit racers crash and bounce down the track nearly every weekend because they have to ride on the bike’s limit all the time. Most of the time they get up and walk away with stiffness and a headache but there can be fractures.’

Outside the race season, the clinic’s team sees patients whose conditions would be familiar to most physios in private practice.

But in recent years, Scott Physiotherapy has gained a reputation for treating an ever-changing roster of professional motorcyclists – some of whom are based on the island.

Others fly in for bouts of rehabilitation after being injured in events around the world.

Though not born on the Isle of Man, Ms Scott grew up there from the age of one. ‘I absolutely love it here,‘ says Ms Scott, who qualified at the Bath School of Physiotherapy in 1992 and obtained a Masters in sports physiotherapy at Bath University in 2011.


As well as motorcycle racers, Mrs Scott, 42, has also worked with elite cyclists, rugby players and Taekwondo athletes.

July will see her heading for Puebla, Mexico, where she will support the British team at the 21st World Taekwondo Federation championships

Born in Bermuda, she clearly has a nomadic streak.

For example, as well as being a member of the sports massage team at the Athens Olympic Games, Mrs Scott has also volunteered  at three Commonwealth Games – in Manchester, Melbourne, and Delhi.

The 2011 film TT 3D: Closer to the Edge helped to bring attention to the role played by Mrs Scott in treating prominent riders, such as Guy Martin and local favourite Conor Cummins. Both had ‘huge crashes’ in 2010, she says.

‘The film showed what these boys go through to get back racing.’ Asked if she rides a bike herself, Mrs Scott replies: ‘I have ridden a moped in Bermuda, but I’m not a biker.’ fl

What makes the TT event unique is that riders compete on public roads over a partly mountainous 37-mile track.

There’s a seemingly endless series of bends, punctuated by jumps, manhole covers, stone walls and telegraph poles.

With their bikes reaching speeds nudging 200 miles an hour, crashes, and even an occasional death, are inevitable.

In 1970, the worst year on record, six TT riders died.


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Ian A McMillan

Issue date

15 May 2013

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