Olympic preparations – a physio’s perspective

As Rio 2016 gets underway, why not take a look into the preparations leading up to the Olympics from a physio’s point of view. Jason Laird, (lead physiotherapist at the British Judo Centre of Excellence) gives us a key insight into his Olympic Journey thus far. As always, please comment with your thoughts!


The road to the Olympics…

The road to an Olympic Games is obviously very different for all involved but, as a physiotherapist working full time in sport, it has many elements.

Firstly, there is my role with the individual athletes travelling and competing (we have qualified seven Judo athletes for the Olympics in Rio). This has included organising pre-travel medical screenings and immunisations, helping to plan individual day to day training and treatment plans, and, of course, managing their injuries as part of the wider MDT.

Secondly, a key part of my role has been the planning and logistics of optimally supporting the athletes in another country. As part of this, we travelled to Belo Horizonte (home to our our pre-Olympic preparation camp) and Rio in October 2015 and again to Rio in March 2016 in order to scout out the facilities in both our training and competition venues.

This was also a great opportunity to discuss how best to support our athletes with key people on the ground in Rio. Coupled with these visits, our link with both the English Institute of Sport and British Olympic Association medical staff has been key to ensure our emergency action planning and logistics with regards to physiotherapy provision have been well thought out.

Finally, as the sole physiotherapist working with British Judo, I am also responsible for the wider group of Judo athletes on the World Class Performance Programme including our Paralympic athletes who will compete at the Paralympic Games in Rio in September. As a combat sport, there are always ongoing injuries and athletes going through various stages of their rehabilitation. My work with these athletes has continued at pace alongside our Rio preparations in order to get our next crop of athletes back on the mat as soon as possible.

Ready to go…

With my bags now packed full of physio equipment and medical supplies (along with a few personal items of course!) we depart on 29 August for Belo Horizont, our training base just outside of Rio. After five days of acclimatisation and training here we then fly back to Rio and into the Olympics Village.

Our focus now is solely on supporting our athletes to optimally perform on their day of competition. The Judo competition runs from the 6 August to the 12 so make sure you tune in to the UK coverage and look out for our Team GB Judo athletes.