Universities Week report shows impact of universities’ research and sport development

Swansea University research is included in a new report showing the impact of universities’ research and sport development on the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and UK sport generally. The report has been released as part of Universities Week (30 April – 7 May) which aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities.

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The report, Supporting a UK success story: The impact of university research and sport development, highlights just some of the many ways in which research has helped Team GB limber up and prepare for London 2012. Swansea University’s project which explores the welfare of elite gymnasts is highlighted in the report.

Professor Michael McNamee and Dr Jacinta Tan led a team of researchers from Swansea University in partnership with British Gymnastics. The project aimed to explore the welfare of elite gymnasts in relation to the presence of eating disorders in certain disciplines of elite gymnastics. They specifically investigated gymnasts’ perceptions of their freedom to choose and balance the competing aspects of their lifestyle. It also sought to explore the gymnasts’ sense of their developing identity, values and relationships.

It highlights how research taking place at universities across the UK, including Swansea University is helping to give athletes that extra split second or millimetre advantage which can mean the difference between gold and silver medals in competitive sports.

The report takes an in-depth look at how exploration and development in the areas of technology, health and wellbeing, design, sport development and participation and the Games past and present, have contributed to London 2012 and the UK sports industry.

Professor Richard B. Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, said: “Universities Week 2012 is an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic work universities are contributing to the world of sport, which is especially apt with the Games taking place this year. It is also a great chance to invite people to experience university life first-hand, whether or not they have been to university themselves.”

From the science behind athlete hydration to the regeneration of East London, home to the Olympic Park, the report takes a journey through the research and sports development that sits behind the lasting impact of London 2012 on the UK. Throughout the report, issues of endurance sit side by side with examples of urban regeneration and the history of sports medicine to demonstrate the diverse ways in which the whole of UK society benefits from the work of universities linked to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Universities UK, said: “It is sometimes easy to forget when you watch an athlete or team compete just how much preparation has gone into their performance. This isn’t simply a question of training schedules and practice. These days, cutting-edge university research is used to support every aspect of Olympic sports – from nutrition and health to equipment, physiotherapy, rehabilitation and of course performance. For instance, the combination of design and technology can be immensely effective for top athletes so that the actual design of a kayak or bob-sleigh can be as important to athletes as their own skill and training.”

Karen Rothery, Chief Executive Officer, British Universities & Colleges Sport, said: “Sports development within our universities is encouraging greater participation in sport and activity across the student population and within the communities of universities. A variety of programmes and the support and development of a supporting workforce in volunteers and officials means that more people have the opportunity to be more active and enjoy the many benefits that brings.”

Copies of the full report are available on request from universitiesweek@fourcommunications.com and later for download from www.universitiesweek.org.uk

To find out more about Universities Week visit www.universitiesweek.org.uk or join in with debate on Twitter #UniWeek and #BUCSChamps

To view sporting stars talking about importance of university careers visit www.youtube.com/universitiesweek2012