'There Are Things We Can Do to Help Athletes Reach Their Potential' ; PHYSIOLOGY ++ Physiologist Andrew Jones Tells Kate Hilpern about the Impact His Science Has Had on Sport
Hilpern, Kate, The Independent (London, England)
Knowing that you have had some influence on the success of a high profile athlete is immensely satisfying, says sports scientist Professor Andrew Jones. He should know, having helped Paula Radcliffe to get back on her feet during a difficult stage in her early career, and having worked with her on and off ever since.
"Back in the early 1990s, there was fairly limited opportunity for athletes to engage with sports scientists in terms of having their physiology measured and monitored, and receiving feedback on the best approaches to help them fulfil their potential," says Jones, a BASES high performance sport accredited physiologist. "But I knew Paula's coach and he realised that I might just be able to help her with a few problems she was having. He explained that despite being a very talented junior cross country and track runner, she wasn't running as well as she had previously. So I organised a series of tests for her and we uncovered the problem and corrected her efficiency. Paula became hooked on what sports science could achieve for her and we've established a close working relationship ever since."
Today, the impact of sport science on the functioning of top athletes is well recog-nised. "The very fact that there aren't too many elite sports performers who aren't linked to sports scientists is testament to this," says Jones. "We can probably add a percentage or two to an athlete's performance, which might not sound like much, but at world class level, that can be the difference between winning an Olympic medal and not making the final at all."
Not all athletes need all the services that sports science can offer, he admits. "But there are certainly things that we can add to the mix to help them reach their full potential."
Jones's interest in the subject was born out of his passion for running. "I was an international distance runner as a junior, and was interested in the scientific factors that influenced my performance, so a degree in sports science made perfect sense," he says.
Once he'd started studying at Brighton University in 1988, however, his running career was hampered by a number of illnesses and i n j u r i e s . The academic side of sport took over, although like many students of sports science, he hadn't decided on a specific career at that point.
Jones remembers his undergraduate studies as excellent training. "The degree in sports science is excellent because it covers such a wide range of scientific disciplines which impact on sport and exercise generally - things like physiology, biomechanics, psychology and sociology, as well as a broad scientific training in areas like statistics."
Having graduated, he looked to specialise. An opening for a PhD came up at Brighton University in the subject that Jones had studied for his undergraduate dissertation - exercise physiology.
"In fact, it was even more specifically related to distance running, so it suited me perfectly," he recalls.
From there, he crossed the pond to the University of California in Los Angeles, to study a postdoctoral research training in respiratory …
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Publication information: Article title: 'There Are Things We Can Do to Help Athletes Reach Their Potential' ; PHYSIOLOGY ++ Physiologist Andrew Jones Tells Kate Hilpern about the Impact His Science Has Had on Sport. Contributors: Hilpern, Kate - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: February 1, 2007. Page number: 7. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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