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Physio student and lecturer support Team GB in China

1 April 2015 - 1:41pm

Two physiotherapists from Salford University have spent a week in China supporting Britain’s best cross-country athletes.

China/Team GB

Alex O’Gorman tapes the ankle of British cross country athlete Rhona Auckland

Master's student Alex O’Gorman and physiotherapy lecturer Duncan Mason flew to Guiyang on 23 March.

They were there to help 17 Team GB athletes who were competing in the World Cross Country Championships.

The team included European cross-country champion Gemma Steel and reigning European under-23 cross-country champion Rhona Auckland, competing in her first senior championships.

Mr O’Gorman, who is studying for an MSc degree in strength and conditioning, had previously worked with endurance athletes at the European track and field championships in France in 2014.

He said: ‘In the lead up to the race we provided hands on treatment for any ongoing issues, and preventive maintenance and sports massage.

‘Then during the event we assisted with any supportive taping they needed. We also helped get them ready; making sure they warmed up in time and had their numbers attached and spikes on.

‘At the end they can be extremely exhausted. So our job is to get them through that period and help with recovery.’

File 148636Team GB athletes in China include junior mens cross-country competitors

Although China has a notorious pollution problem, Mr O’Gorman said the air quality did not appear to affect the athletes, but the team’s management did consider the region’s high altitude.

‘Pollution wasn't a major factor but the course was at a slight altitude which does have an effect on endurance events,’ he said.

‘That is why British Athletics flew the squad out a week early – to help them acclimatise, get used to the time difference and ensure that the altitude wouldn’t have much effect on competition day.’

Mr O’Gorman said the support the athletes experienced from the management team was first class and that he found it to be a great learning experience and very inspirational to be part of such a team.

‘There is a big psychological component when working with elite athletes and part of our job is recognising what each athlete needs,’ he said.

‘That could be reassurance, coping strategies, dismissing any fears or doubts, reminding them of key points, space to focus or just some light-hearted humour to minimise their nerves.’

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