The Sports Science behind the successful 2016 Olympic Games Rowing Ireland Team

The Sports Science behind the successful 2016 Olympic Games Rowing Ireland Team

Performance Physiologist Caroline MacManus provided extensive sport science support to the Irish National Rowing squad in preparation for the Olympic Games and World Championships.

It was the most successful Olympic Games for Rowing Ireland, with Gary and Paul O'Donovan winning an Olympic silver medal in the men's lightweight double and the duo of Claire Lambe and Sinead Jennings reaching the A final in the women's lightweight double. Sanita Puspure competed in the women's single at her second Olympics.

Sport Science support involved lab based testing which facilitated monitoring, progression of fitness, and performance gains. In addition, it provides information to set individualised training zones which are further monitored out on the water or on the rowing ergometer. In conjunction with medical and nutritional support - blood profiling was carried out at regular intervals to monitor gains from training phases and ensure all health and endurance associated markers were optimal.

Daily monitoring was carried out which involved the sessional Rate of Perceived Exertion and daily wellness parameters. In association with daily monitoring, hormonal and immune function markers were measured once or twice per week. This allowed us to inform the coach and athletes if the athletes may have been struggling with the current training levels and if measures needed to be put in place to ensure adequate recovery and avoidance of illness/injury. The ultimate goal of all this monitoring is to ensure the athletes lose minimal time to illness and injury and to promote peak performance.

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