Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Posts By: Emily Fallon

The Australian travel bug

📥  2016-17, Health

Explore. Dream. Discover.

As you will all now be aware, I have been lucky enough to spend my placement year, and the last 10 months, in the beautiful city of Adelaide in South Australia. I’ve enjoyed exploring the city and visiting the stunning scenery of SA. I think it is pertinent if on placement overseas to really throw yourself into the country’s culture, and see as much as possible! As you can probably appreciate, this is pretty tricky in Australia, as it can take hours to fly interstate, so for a full time and unpaid intern, it’s hard to see the whole country. That said, I don’t think I’ve done too bad so far!

I wanted to use this blog to share with you all where I’ve been this year, to give any future overseas placement students, or avid travellers, some ideas on where to go, what to see, and show you how incredible Australia is.

Here’s a breakdown of the states of Australia, and a mixture of my experiences and what I would have like to have seen in each state.  Who needs trip advisor!

South Australia

My homeland! Adelaide, one of the best cities in the world to live in yet seemingly somewhat undiscovered, is in the lovely state of SA. It is home to some great attractions including the famous Adelaide Wine regions, including but not exhaustive to the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa Valley and the McLaren Vale. I have definitely had my fair share of trips there! We also have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, such as Noarlunga, Maslin, Willunga and Second Valley. You can hire paddle boards, kayaks and snorkels to enjoy the serenity of the beaches. Adelaide is also famous for its beautiful natural scenery, mountainous regions and hiking trails. Some of my favourite spots include Mount Lofty, Morialta Conservation Park and the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Some other definite must-sees are the lovely towns of Victor Harbor, Hahndorf and Port Lincoln. In Port Lincoln you can go shark diving! Sadly I didn’t get to do this, however there’s been enough shark spottings in the sea here, that’s close enough for me. Another gem in South Australia is the incredible Kangaroo Island. This is a short 1.5 hour drive from the city and 40 minute ferry ride away. I went for a weekend away to KI on an Adventure tour and was one of the best trips I’ve ever done! I enjoyed sandboarding in Little Sahara, kayaking in the Harriet River and soaking up the breathtaking views of Remarkable Rocks, Vivonne Bay and Admirals Arch. Would definitely recommend as a must see in Australia!

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Above are some photos from Kangaroo Island: Remarkable Rocks and Vivonne Bay.

Victoria

In Victoria I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Grampians, St Kilda’s beach and Torquay (all which I spoke about in my blog ‘Trip of a Lifetime’) and the city of Melbourne. Melbourne was a great city to visit; I really felt the busy hustle and bustle of being in a major city. It is very modern too, and has really interesting architecture. I loved the massive food culture there, they have so many quirky street food places to eat, and cool bars – definitely great to check out. Also, the shopping is amazing! Some of my favourite parts of the city were the MCG stadium, which is the biggest sporting arena in Australia, and one of the biggest in the world and the Crown, which is a huge casino in the centre of town, it was very glamorous! I’d recommend also checking out Federation square (the heart of Melbourne), the Yarra River (there are some really cool statues along the river), and Phillip Island if you get time. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit Phillip Island but I’ve heard it is a great trip, there is beautiful scenery and you can see penguins in their natural habitat – pretty cool!

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Here are some photos from Melbourne.

New South Wales

NSW: the home of one of the busiest and most popular cities on the planet, and definitely one of my favourite places in Australia – Sydney! I’ve been lucky enough to go to Sydney twice this year, and definitely been the most stereotypical tourist each time, getting the selfie stick out on Bondi Beach and in front of the opera house – I couldn’t resist! Sydney is a great city, it is full of things to do and great sights to see. It is extremely busy, and full of tourists (like me) but I love it! Top things to see in the city are undoubtedly the Sydney Opera House, which still remains to me one of the coolest buildings ever, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Westfields observation deck / sky tower and Darling Harbour. Also, if you want a good night out or a few drinks, definitely check out The Rocks. I spent New Years Eve in Sydney with some friends from home and went to a gold party at The Argyle and had the best night out ever! It is full of cool bars and restaurants – a great place to be. Also, whilst you’re there I would recommend getting a ferry from Circular Quay (where the opera house and bridge are) to Bondi Beach. I promise this will give you THE BEST view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge! So definitely get your phones at the ready for some awesome selfies and potential Facebook profile pictures. Bondi is also great! I think that the actual beach is a bit disappointing, compared to some of the stunning beaches we have in SA, but it is a really great place to be. They have a strip of great shops and places to eat and drink, and of course the famous street art which cannot be missed! You can also spot some awesome surfer dudes ride the waves. If you have time definitely do the Bondi to Coogee costal walk where you will pass by the beautiful surfing beaches of Bronte and Tamarama. Also, try catching the ferry to Manly beach, another great surfing beach with a busy atmosphere and full of backpackers! So that’s all the stuff that I got up to in Sydney. If time permitted I would have loved to check out the Blue Mountains, some of my friends have hiked up there and the views look incredible!

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Above are some photos from Sydney. The second was climbing the Westfield tower and the third was at Bondi.

Australian Capital Territory

ACT is the second smallest state, and I think I’ve seen most of the big attractions there which are all in Canberra. I have visited Australia’s capital twice now, and outlined my fun adventures in my previous blog ‘Trip of a Lifetime’. Another thing that I didn’t get the chance to do would be to go in a hot air balloon at sunrise, this looks amazing! I would definitely recommend going to Canberra, there is a lot more there than people first think, and you can’t be the ignorant tourist going to visit a country and not seeing their capital city!

Queensland

QL is the home of the popular traveller’s city, Brisbane. I’m disappointed that I haven’t had the chance to get to Brisbane this year, but it will definitely be a reason for me to come back to Australia. I’d love to see be Surfers paradise, the Sunshine Coast, the street beach, and Nusa. This could finally be my chance to try surfing, one thing not ticked off the Australian bucket list yet! As well as Brisbane, QL also homes the famous Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s most iconic and stunning sites. I am fortunate enough to have a trip planned there for my 21st birthday next month. I’m flying to Hamilton Island from Adelaide, spending a night there before catching the ferry over to Airlie Beach for a week. On my birthday I’ve got a snorkelling trip planned where we will see the Whitsunday islands and the famous Whitehaven beach. So I’m super excited for that, which will mark my last trip in Aus before I sadly head home.

Northern Territory

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to get up to NT, however that is where the iconic Uluru is, known to tourists as ‘Ayers Rock’. This would have been an extraordinary experience, but is a pretty pricey trip, as it is in the middle of nowhere! It is definitely on my bucket list though for when I come back to Australia: to see sunrise at Uluru and camp under the stars in the amazing Australian outback.

Western Australia

I haven’t visited WA this year, however I went a few years ago to visit a friend from home that moved out there. I stayed in Perth, and loved it! It reminds me now of a busier version of Adelaide – there are great beaches and things to do, such as walking around Kings Park and the Botanical Gardens and up and down Swan River. It was also in Perth that I saw my first ever kangaroo, so I have fond memories of my trip there. Some recommendations for WA would be to get to the beautiful Broome, and see some of the natural beauties of the Pinnacles and Kalbarri National Park.

Tasmania

Tasmania is by far the place that I would have liked to visit the most that I haven’t yet. Unfortunately I just haven’t had the time this year. I’d love to travel there to check out the city of Hobart and climb Mount Wellington, do some of the amazing hiking trails in Freycinet National Park and see Wineglass Bay, and of course see the Hazards. That will be the first place I visit when I come back to Aus, but maybe not in the winter, we have enough cold weather in England, and I heard it can get pretty chilly there! From Adelaide you can fly to Melbourne and get the ferry to Hobart so is easy to get to.

I think a general rule for visiting a new city would be:

  • Do the open top bus tour, especially if you are tight for time as you get the chance to quickly see the cities best sights before deciding what you want to see more of
  • Check out the sky observation deck, as most cities these days have one these days and they provide the best views
  • See the botanical gardens, as they always promise to be beautiful!
  • Take lots of photos, because they speak a thousand words.

 

Branching out and making things happen

📥  2016-17, Health

I have just got back from what’s been a great 10 days at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. A key part of being an intern or placement student is to have a proactive approach to all elements of working life. Seek out extra learning and networking opportunities, express interest in projects, and who knows what you could end up getting involved in!

This is exactly what I did at the Australian Institute of Sport when I first visited and I consequently ended up going back to help out as a lab assistant in a top sports nutrition study led by world class researchers and dieticians testing some of Australia’s elite triathletes.

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The study was looking at the effect of carbohydrate periodisation on performance and iron and bone health in elite triathletes, some of which represented Australia at the Rio Olympics last year. The study was being used by Triathlon Australia, the Sports nutrition team at the AIS and made up two PhD projects. The premise of the study was manipulating athletes’ diets to elicit positive performance changes and improvements in their iron and bone health. It consisted of two 6 day training blocks whereby half of the athletes in each block would sleep on a low carbohydrate intake, and train after a high carbohydrate meal – the notion of “train high, sleep low”.

My role in the study was to help whenever and with whoever. When I first arrived I observed a performance trial, which was a simulated cycling race performed on stationary bikes in the lab. I then soon got really involved in the testing by assisting with taking blood from the athletes’ fingertips and earlobes before, during and after exercise to analyse blood glucose, ketones and lactate and helping to run blood samples in the lab centrifuge and pipette droplets of serum into small tubes before they are sent off for further analysis to look for certain markers in the blood for example to indicate iron metabolism. I also assisted with the collection of gas from athletes to look at the volumes and components of inspired and expired air to help us determine what substrate they were metabolising, strictly carbohydrate or fat. After the testing I helped to collect ratings of perceived exertion, power output and heart rate to help quantify the session intensity.

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Outside of the lab I assisted the sports nutrition team too by helping to prepare and weigh snacks for the athletes as they were on a strictly monitored diet. I also got to observe training sessions, ran by world famous coach Jamie Turner, which gave me an excellent insight to the life of a triathlete and the high demands of the sport.

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The study definitely opened my eyes to research and really inspired me to become immersed in Sports Nutrition, potentially at a Masters or PhD level. I have started by choosing Nutrition and Metabolism for my final year unit, and I will be work shadowing the Dietician at SASI at her private practise next week. This will give me insight into the life of a Sports Nutritionist and see if it is something that I may see myself doing.

This has been an additional component of my placement, and completely outside the work that I have done at SASI. I would really recommend doing this when possible for any placement students out there, as it is great to widen your experiences, work with new people and in a new environment.

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Trip of a lifetime

📥  2016-17, Health

7 days, 4 states, 3 planes, 2 sheilas, 1 car, a whole heap of exploring and some work. Road trip over!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog for a while, as I have just got back from what has been the most amazing trip I’ve ever done! I was fortunately asked by SASI to be an athlete chaperone for the Oceania Road Championships as some of our cyclists were competing. As part of this role, I had to drive the SASI cycling car to Canberra from Adelaide. For those of you that aren’t overly knowledgeable with the map of Australia (very much like me until recently), that is one heck of a drive; 750 miles, and a very boring route through the middle of nowhere, known to Aussies as ‘Whoop Whoop’. Consequently, I asked SASI if I could do a slight detour to see some of Australia’s most beautiful sights that I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to do again.

So, Shannon, another Bath placement student, and myself set off, for what was to soon become one of the best, and most memorable weeks ever.

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On the first day we drove from Adelaide to the Grampians, which are a stunning mountainous range in Halls Gap, Victoria. If they aren’t already one of the wonders of the world then they definitely should be! We arrived at the Grampians National Park just before sunset, so got to see a sneak peak of a lovely view of dusk at MacKenzie Falls. However, the drive down the steep mountain in the dark was slightly scary! Good job we’d already done a treacherous 7 hours of driving that day, so we were used to it. We woke up early the next morning to make the most of the beautiful scenery before setting off again, so we drove up to see Reid’s Lookout, Pinnacle and the Balconies. We were lucky to arrive before the mass crowds of tourists, so really got to soak up the tranquility and stunning beauty of the Grampians, and of course take some awesome (and very generically touristy) photos!

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After a fantastic morning, we left the Grampians and had a short drive to Port Campbell. This was the start of the famous Great Ocean Road! We had both seen lots of photos of some of the sights you can see along the way, and had a meticulously planned schedule so were very excited. We stopped at London Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and the 12 Apostles, and again saw some really breathtaking views that depicted Australia’s stunningly picture perfect natural beauty.

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Great Ocean Road – definitely a huge tick off the bucket list!  

We then set off for Torquay, and arrived late in the evening. The next day we woke up and drove down to Bells Beach – a world renowned surfing beach, 100km south-west of Melbourne. Whilst unfortunately it was too chilly to try surfing ourselves, we definitely enjoyed watching top class surfers ride the waves, unbelievably in awe!

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After spending a short time at Bells Beach, attempting to get a suntan which didn’t end too well, we drove to Melbourne. Our first stop was St Kildas beach, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and swim in the sea. St Kildas was a great spot, full of cool restaurants, cafes and bars, and was jam packed. Being so near to the city, and as one of Melbourne’s most popular beach, we definitely felt the city buzz, slightly new for us Adelaideans! As Melbourne is famous for its food culture, we enjoyed a tasty Pho from a trendy Vietnamese restaurant before getting an early night in preparation for our long drive the next day to Canberra.

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This marked the end of our road trip, and start of our working responsibilities. The next day was a long grind, we drove for 8 hours, but after multiple repeats of Ed Sheeran’s new album, a few games of I spy and lots of snacks later, we finally arrived in Australia’s capital city; Canberra. This was the fourth and final state that we had visited, Australian Capital Territory, preceded by South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. We met the SASI athletes at the airport the next day where we accompanied them to their training, and helped when needed. We also managed to soak up some culture and explore the city, visiting Old and New Parliament House, the Telstra tower at sunset, the War Memorial, Australian Institute of Sport, Lake Burley Griffin, the National Museum and had a fun night at the Enlighten Festival and Night Noodle Markets with some friends we made on our travels. To top it off, SASI cyclists won a gold medal in the Women’s time trial, and a silver medal in the Men’s road race.

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Spot the wannabee SASI cyclist.

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So after 2,000 miles of driving and lots of sightseeing, we did it. And what a week!! Definitely a MUST DO for any avid travellers!

 

Keeping Rad in Radelaide

📥  2016-17, Health

After being pretty quiet on the blogging front recently, I am back with lots of exciting things to report on! The past few months have been great fun - Adelaide, as always, has been the heart of constant enjoyment and lifetime memory-making opportunities. There has been an array of fantastic events recently such as the Fringe Festival, WOMAD Festival and various food and drink events and tasting festivals such as ‘Taste Australia’ which has been on this weekend.

‘Mad March’ has been my favourite time since living down Under. I enjoyed attending the Adelaide Fringe Festival watching a wide range of world-class acts and covering my face in glitter for the entirety of the Fringe! Some of my favourite shows included the infamous and utterly hilarious ‘Dragapella’ (yes, this is a real show AND they have multiple albums on Spotify), '360 All-Stars', a theatrical acrobatic group consisting of world renowned athletes, dancers and musicians and ‘Critically Will’, a fantastically entertaining comedy show by Australia’s most talented comic, Will Anderson. I’d definitely encourage checking them all out if you are thinking of heading to the Edinburgh Fringe – I’ll see you there!

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On the first night of the Fringe, there was a brilliant opening parade show. To get in the real Aussie spirit I thought that this selfie on the left was a must. The tent in the photo on the right was the venue for the first Fringe show that I saw which was called ‘Best of Ed’, a stand-up comedy show by 3 talented comedians from the Edinburgh Fringe.

As well as seeing some great shows, I loved the buzz of the city whilst the Fringe was on. There were heaps of pop up bars and amazing street food trucks. People from all over the world had come to Adelaide to watch the Fringe, it really was the place to be. Also, as part of the Festival, there were venues all over the city with live music, more food and drink places and a great excuse to catch up with friends, have a few drinks and a boogie, or see a last minute show after work! My favourite venues were the Royal Croquet Club and the Garden of Unearthly delights. One night I went to one of the venues for some food with a friend after work and very luckily bagged some free tickets for a show called YouTunes! It was hosted in a small but quirky tent in the Royal Croquet Club and ran by one incredibly talented musician with a mixture of instruments who made music out of the interactions and noises the crowed made, such as laughing, cheering and even speaking. It was comical, interactive and thoroughly entertaining!

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Here are some photos from the Garden of Unearthly delights, Royal Croquet Club, and ‘Secret Garden bar’!

So, big advice for anyone coming to Adelaide, or even Australia, on placement next year – be sure to check out the Fringe and all associated events, and save your pennies for what I guarantee will be the best month of your placement!

 

Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - Girls Pedal2Podium

📥  2016-17, Health

We are currently half way through the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 in Adelaide, and I am absolutely loving it! What a fantastic event that I have had the pleasure of being a part of.

SASI Talent Search have been here all week talent search testing to find Australia's next female cycling champions! I have been running the initiative called 'Girls Pedal2Podium' where we have been testing strength, endurance and power in females aged 12 - 20 in a series of tests on stationary watt bikes. I have really enjoyed running this project as we have tested over 150 girls in the past week, and found some incredible talent. We have also promoted the importance of female participation in sport, which is very important to me.

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This was our testing tent on the first day of the Santos Tour Down Under 2017, busy and raring to find talent!

SASI Talent Search works mostly by testing athletes in secondary schools around SA to see if they have the potential to participate in one of the 4 talent search sports at an elite and international level. We test athletes' physical and physiological ability for Canoe Sprint / Kayak, Beach Volleyball, Rowing and Cycling through a range of tests and if we believe that they have what it takes, we invite them to SASI for further sport specific testing and then if they perform well, invite them to be a part of a SASI Talent Search development program. The program has been incredibly successful, with a large number of athletes representing Australia at the recent Olympic Games being identified at a young age from SASI Talent Search.

As well as running Talent Search testing this week, we have organised a series of talks and presentations in the Tour Village from some of our successful SASI cyclists that have gone on to or are working towards national and international selections. They've provided great insight into the life of an elite cyclist, ie what the training and commitments involve, and some tips for the sport!

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The SASI Talent Search testing team, with the addition of two-time Olympian and ex- SASI Talent Search athlete, Annette Edmondson. 

I have also been responsible for the marketing of the event by making the promotional advertising material ranging from logos, flyers and posters to help get the message out. In addition, I have been actively promoting the event through social and digital media; I arranged a press conference at SASI last week where we had a live TV crew, assistant minister to the Premier, representatives from SA Task Force Women in Sport, some of our current Talent Search athletes and SASI management attend, which was a great success. I am in the process of trying to get the message out to local radio stations and newspapers, to encourage even more girls to come down to be tested, and also, just give cycling / sport in general a go!

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This was at the press conference at SASI that I organised.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the week to see what other talent we find, and I'll hopefully get the chance to watch some of the race! My set target was to test 80 females; I have definitely exceeded this, so I am now aiming for 200!

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#GP2P2017

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Sassy at SASI

📥  2016-17, Health

Nearly 4 months in now and I can say that deciding to move to Adelaide to spend my placement year at the South Australian Sports Institute has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

In my second blog I spoke about some of the work that I have done in Talent Search so I wanted to use this blog to talk a bit about the work that I have been doing recently.

A great feature of working at SASI is how it is a multidisciplinary team, so I have got to observe and work shadow lead practitioners in many different areas of Sport Science. My placement has enabled me to see the different areas of SASI which have included Physiology, Talent Search and Strength and Conditioning. I have also worked with the Australian Paralympic Committee, who are based at SASI. This has been extremely advantageous as I have been exposed to different teams and different areas of Sport Science. As I am not entirely sure what area I want to go into yet, this has been a nice introduction to some of the pathways that I could follow in. It has also allowed me to develop a good rapport with many different staff members.

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The ‘Bathies’ at the SASI Awards this year – us Brits scrub up well!

Exercise Physiology

Exercise Physiology is defined as the identification of physiological mechanisms underlying physical activity and the delivery of treatment services concerned with the analysis, improvement and maintenance of health and fitness. At SASI, this is related to elite athletes, and elite sport, so the goal in Exercise Physiology at SASI is to improve athletic performance through various means and as a result help South Australian athletes to win medals at the Olympic Games. As a Physiology placement student at SASI, I have helped with the field and lab testing conducted by the Exercise Physiologists. In the lab, I have helped to run Haemoglobin mass and lactate threshold tests. The haemoglobin mass test was to evaluate the effect of a block of altitude training amongst 3 of the SASI kayakers. The lactate threshold tests were to determine the training thresholds for the U23 rowers, and some of the kayakers. This type of testing helps to quantify athletes’ training, so they know essentially how intense to train (in terms of heart rate, VO2, power output and stroke rate) for them to accrue performance benefits such as increased aerobic fitness, or more anaerobic speed and power. I have also helped with field testing, such as conducting the beep test, agility tests, sprint times and vertical jump for hockey, beach volleyball and netball athletes.

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A SASI rower being tested in the Exercise Physiology lab. They were carrying out a 7x4 test to determine their lactate thresholds and the associated variables, and some maximal data including heart rate and VO2.

Alongside the testing, I have also learnt about load monitoring, and how coaches and exercise physiologists do constant monitoring of athletes, through a plethora of performance and general wellbeing measures, to ensure that training effects are maximised. This has involved me being exposed a range of new computing programmes such as PolarFlow, Adapt, Training Peaks, Athlete Monitoring System, and to some of the more advanced features of Excel.

Strength and Conditioning

As part of our placement, we have been given the opportunity to complete our Level 1 Australian Strength and Conditioning Association qualification which now that we have all passed (yay!), we are qualified strength and conditioning coaches. As part of this, we had to observe 30 hours of strength and conditioning coaching in the SASI gym, which enabled us to observe many different athletes in a large variety of sports train, and see the types of training that the coaches have prescribed. As a result, we now supervise the SASI Staff training hours, where we are able to offer our insight and expertise to the staff members (although most are way fitter and more qualified than me so it ends up being a very quiet session!).

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It’s not every day that you get to see Olympic athletes train, or better yet, go to an awards night and have a drink with them! On the left is myself and Kyle Chalmers, Australian superstar swimmer who bagged himself two gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games, at his first international swimming event and aged only 18! On the right is myself and Anna Meares (I hope that you didn’t need the explanation), world famous and world best (sorry Vikky P) cyclist, another Olympian who won a bronze medal at Rio, to add to her collection.

Australian Paralympic Committee

As it was pretty quiet for me in Exercise Physiology post Olympics, I asked the Australian Paralmpic Committee (APC) if they needed any help or had any jobs for me to do. They readily accepted my offer, and ever since I have been working on a Post-Olympic performance profiling database and now report for Swimming Australia. This has involved me recording every medallist in every Paralympic swimming event from the games alongside some historical data such as their first Paralympic and World Champ appearance and time, details of their impairment, annual best times over the past 8 years, and many other details. Now that I have done all of the data entry, I am helping the Australian Paralympic Skill Acquisitioner write a report for Swimming Australia about the classes that Australia can target to win more medals, or identify which classes / events Australia performed the best in at the games. This has been a great project, as it has exposed me to Paralympic sport, and what can be done with numbers, and the wonderful Excel!

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A Silver Paralympic medal from the Rio Paralmypic games that I got the pleasure of seeing (and holding!!), won by Sam Von Einem in table tennis, a proud SASI athlete, and overall legend.

 

Starting work and searching for talent

📥  2016-17, Health

I am now officially in the swing of placement working life, and I love it! SASI has welcomed me with open arms, I have met and worked with some incredibly talented people, and I am learning something new every day.

Most of my work so far has been with SASI Talent Search, so I wanted to give you all a bit of insight as to exactly what that is.

The SASI Talent Search Program is a fantastic initiative that selects athletes from Adelaide based secondary schools and Universities that have the potential to represent Australia on an International level in one, or more, of the talent search sports which include rowing, kayaking, beach volleyball and cycling. The program has shown great success, with a large number of athletes representing Australia at the Rio Olympic Games coming from the talent search pathway, and being identified from school, having never played their sport before! The steps are as follows: Phase 1 = secondary schools send in their athletes’ data which includes tests like the beep test, 20m sprint and vertical jump, along with height, weight, arm span and seated height. We then choose the top 2.5% of students, and as part of Phase 2a, go to the schools to test the athletes ourselves. At this stage, we do the same tests, to confirm the data that the schools have provided us with. This year, we expanded Phase 2a by going to test in 2 of the Universities in Adelaide, and also arranged a ‘Come and Try’ event where we were looking for raw talent in the sports. The next stage is sending all of this testing data to the coaches for the sports, who then narrow the athletes down even more to progress to Phase 2b testing. This year, we received 3466 athletes’ data from 36 schools in Phase 1, we tested 1034 from 36 sources in Phase 2 and chose 467 athletes for Phase 2b. Phase 2b testing involved the athletes coming to SASI to take part in more sport specific testing. This included strength testing in the gym for kayaking, various ball drills / skills for beach volleyball, a 6s and 2min sprint to determine power and cadence for cycling, and strength, power and endurance tests for rowing. From this, the coaches again look through all of the data and select the best of the best athletes for Phase 3. Phase 3 is the final stage of the pathway, and these athletes are then invited to be a part of the State Development Squad. This year we chose 121 athletes, across the 4 sports, to join the state development squads. From there, the hope is that they make state teams, then national teams, and hopefully get offered a SASI scholarship to train here, and hopefully progress to national sporting bodies for their sport, and represent Australia at the Olympic Games.

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In the photo of the left, I am running the Talent Search testing at Adelaide University, and on the right I am testing the vertical jump height of a talented young athlete in a local school. 

 

Travelling to the land down under…

📥  2016-17, Health

10,195 miles later, and we have arrived. Despite missing out on watching the finals of Wimbledon and the Euros we had an exciting (yet very tiring) flight. This excitement of course was enhanced by the McDonalds stop in Dubai airport at 2am. So, Adelaide – initially, quite a shock as we were greeted with, I quote: “the wettest day in 75 years”, and storms that I don’t even think us Brits could have prepared for. But we adjusted, put on our big winter coats and scarves and readily got to the beach the next day when the weather calmed down.

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This is one of our local beaches, Semaphore, on a classic Australian winters day. Clearly not too bad for us as we were straight on the beach, paddling our feet.

We started working at the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) two days after we had arrived, but only for half days whilst we adjusted to the time zone (still not there yet, feels very strange). We, the “Bathies” as referred to, soon met the team. This includes the physiologists, biomechanists, strength and conditioning coaches, psychologists, performance analysts, athletes and coaches - what a bunch, right! I’m still getting used to the fact that Olympic champions casually stroll through the office, it’s hard not to fan girl, particularly when I met an athlete last week who is shortly heading off to Rio for his 8th Paralympic games. I’ve met and worked with around 10 athletes now who have set off to their pre-Olympic / Paralympic game training camps. It’s amazing to be working in a place with such talented staff and athletes, it is very inspirational. This of course wouldn’t be possible without the use of world class facilities. So far we have seen most of SASI’s training facilities, which include a superdrome, hockey pitches, beach volleyball courts, and research facilities including a well-equipped S&C gym, and high tech Physiology testing lab.

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On the left is Shannon and I in our SASI kit at work, and on the right is Jim recording some of the SASI athletes at the swimming state championships at Marion Swim club.

So far everyone has been so friendly; maybe our accents are intriguing so people are nicer to us. But I love working for SASI, it is a great atmosphere and I feel very welcome already. I’m looking forward to watching the Olympic and Paralympic Games at work; let’s hope that we bring home lots of medals (we of course being Australia, sorry team GB).

Since being here we have tried to embrace the Aussie culture as best we can. We went to an AFL game at the weekend at the Adelaide Oval. AFL is known as ‘footy’ over here, and it is a great sport to watch; it seems a mixture of football (called soccer over here) and rugby, but slightly more brutal! We’ve decided to support Port Adelaide for now, but if the Adelaide Crows win at the weekend, our loyalties may change… Haven’t tried any kangaroo yet, maybe that will be next on the ‘to do’ list.

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