ALTITUDE training in Eastbourne played an important part in winning performances at the Paralympics, according to the University of Brighton’s Gary Brickley, whose athletes brought home a total of eight medals.
He said there was no “magic wand” to success but understanding athletes’ disabilities and the use of altitude training were important keys to maximising their training.
Dr Brickley, senior lecturer in the School of Sport and Service Management and an exercise physiologist, worked with Sarah Storey, who won four golds, David Stone MBE, University of Brighton alumnus, who won one gold, one bronze, and Darren Kenny, University of Brighton honorary graduate who took a silver and a bronze.
Dr Brickley said, “Whilst scientists may try to find formulas to improve performance, there is no magic wand in the secret to successful athletic performance. I have been fortunate enough to work with many great athletes, triathletes and cyclists over the years but more recently work with the Paralympic cyclists has been my passion.
“I have worked with David Stone, Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey since 2005 as a coach and exercise physiologist. The riders are based in Leeds, Bournemouth and Manchester respectively so we tend to meet at events, talk on Skype or email regularly. The riders visit the laboratories at the university to plot their progress and to iron out any performance issues.
“We plan our training to ensure that they all peak for major competitions. In preparation for the London 2012 Games, in addition to their normal training, we used altitude training facilities to improve their performance. This was tracked by myself and carried out at the University of Brighton campus in Eastbourne, Manchester Met and Leeds Met, as well as attending a camp in Livigno, Italy.
“Understanding the athlete’s disability and being able to maximise their training is a major part of my role. It is primarily about fine tuning and being able to adapt the training during periods of injury or in different phases of the season.
“It’s also important to be able to listen to the riders taking an athlete centred approach to motivate them through the highs and lows. Understands how performance gains can be made in training and racing through nutritional or training interventions is also a big factor in the continued success.”