Physios join the nation's best athletes at the Tokyo Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics, postponed from last year due to the pandemic, open on Friday in Japan with physiotherapists playing a critical support role for Britain’s athletes. 

Tokyo 2020 physio leads
HQ physios (l-r): Jon Twynham, Oli Davies, Nicki Combarro, Lily Devine, Ian Horsley and Paul Gould

Speaking to Frontline on the eve of tomorrow’s opening ceremony, Team GB chief physio Nicki Combarro outlined the outstanding work of the 52 physio clinicians:

We’ve got a great team of physiotherapists here in Tokyo with a wealth of experience in high performance sport, enabling us to support the athletes to achieve their maximum potential.

Equestrian physio Clare-Maria Currie
Team Ireland equestrian physio Clare-Maria Currie

Other CSP members from Northern Ireland are working with Team Ireland’s 102 athletes. And other physios will be on duty at the Summer Paralympics starting on  24 August.

The ‘HQ’ team in the athlete’s Olympic Village has created a facility from the shell of one of the apartments. It provides space for athletes to be treated, a performance space for active recovery and an ice bath facility. 

Other team members along with Ms Combarro in the Team GB ‘performance centre’ are deputy chief physio Ian Horsley along with Paul Gould, Jon Tywnham, Oli Davies and Lily Devine.

Outside the Olympic Village is Team GB’s ‘performance lodge’. It offers a large performance centre with extensive gym facilities, recovery pool, areas for the athletes to relax and recover in and is fully catered by a chef and supervised by a Team GB nutritionist.

It is staffed by physios Craig More and Oli Williamson.

And the Team GB ‘prep camp,’ in Yokohama on the outskirts of Tokyo, is headed up by Nikki Phillips while Laura Hanna is its head of performance services. Also at the facility are physio clinicians Caryl Becker and Carl Butler.

And a critical role at Tokyo 2020 is held by CSP member Greg Retter as Covid liaison officer for Great Britain, as well as being Team GB head of performance services.

The other 40 physiotherapists have come to the Games with the sports that they are fully embedded in, that is working with this sport is their ‘normal’ day job, explained Ms Combarro.

Tokyo 2020 treatment room
A Team GB physio treatment room

They are: 

Tokyo 2020 physio Isobel Freeman
Team GB rugby 7s women's physio Isobel Freeman treating an athlete in Tokyo this week
  • archery - Eleanor Jones
  • athletics - Helen van KempenAndy Walling, George Polglass, Catherine McCormick, Gordon Bosworth
  • badminton - Julia Sawkings
  • boxing - Sophie Smith-Moore, Edward Owen
  • canoe slalom - Andy Powell
  • canoe sprint - Patrick Harding
  • climbing - Paul Houghoughi
  • cycling - Ben McDonald, Hannah Cowley, Alex O'Gorman
  • diving - Gareth Ziyambi
  • equestrian - Jennie Owst, Ashleigh Wallace (working with the horses Rachel Greetham, Vicky Spalding)
  • fencing - Maria Gorlup
  • womens football - Alicia Tang, Ros Cooke, Emily Whatling
  • golf - Nigel Tilley
  • gymnastics - Johnny Bucke, Jason Laird
  • judo - David Hart
  • hockey (women) - Emma Batchelor
  • hockey (men) - Sophie Weaver
  • rowing - Liz Arnold, Steve Leonard, Heather Stephens
  • rugby 7s (men) - Alistair Little
  • rugby 7s (women) - Isobel Freeman 
  • swimming - Matt Ashman, Angela George
  • tennis - Shane Annum , Dan Lewindon
  • taekwondo - Ben Harper
  • triathlon - Emma Deakins
  • sailing - Louise Turner, Kate Richardson

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