A proud experience as Lead Physiotherapist with Team Ireland at the Tokyo Paralympic games 2020 (2021)

I am very proud to be able to say that I was Lead Physiotherapist with Team Ireland at the Tokyo Paralympic games 2020 (2021). These games had been a long time coming. The challenges that affected every part of society over the last 18+ months also affected the high-performance sport community. Access to training facilities was restricted, access to support services was restricted, competitions were cancelled, travel was cancelled, even the Games themselves were postponed. Like everyone else, Team Ireland had to face these challenges and I think athletes and support staff alike did the best they could under trying circumstances.

Hard work and team spirit

That backdrop made these games in Tokyo all the more special, more important, more surreal. I have worked as a physiotherapist at World Championships and European championships before, but this was my first games. The Big Show. I was confident we could meet all challenges ahead of us as there has been 4 years of working hand in hand with all the athletes representing Ireland. This allows us to really get to know the athletes, and to put in place robust Injury and illness prevention strategies for each individual. I also had a brilliant Physio and medical team with me, including David Greene, who also works here at PMC Physiotherapy. This work over the last number of years was borne out by the fact we had only one injury throughout the whole squad during the games, and even this was managed well to allow that person to compete strongly.

Day to day as a physiotherapist

The day to day of the games works something like this. Get up early. As a Physiotherapist, you travel with the athletes to their competitions. This generally means early starts. Luckily the Dining hall is open 24 hours with a massive selection of foods from all over the world. No one went hungry. At the venue, I may have work to do with an athlete during warm ups etc. The main part of being at a venue is to be available. Always. In case something happens. We plan for as many scenarios as we can think of but sometimes unexpected issues crop up. I may be at a venue all day, or return to the athlete’s village around lunch time. Back to the dining hall, then into our clinic which we set up in the village to see athletes who are not competing that day. In the evening it is back to the venues for evening sessions. All in all, physiotherapists can clock some long days –12-15-hour days are the norm while at competition.

Special atmosphere

Not that it is all work. The team atmosphere and camaraderie are what make trips like this stand out. There is a common goal to strive for. And when it all comes together, watching an athlete perform to his or her best ability, on the biggest of stages, makes the work worthwhile. Medals are great, they give everyone a lift. But not everyone can medal and many of our athletes had lifetime best performances in Tokyo. When you see the work that goes on in the background, these are deeply satisfying. The Japanese people and volunteers that we met were fantastic. Very warm and friendly, willing to help and always waving. Fantastic hosts.

Representing Team Ireland

As I said, I am very proud to have been a part of Team Ireland for these games in Tokyo. And I have the cert to prove it.

PMC Physiotherapy Dunboyne recommendation

We are proud to work with elite athletes at PMC Physiotherapy and each experience brings us more knowledge to help all our patients. If you are suffering from a sports related injury, contact one of our physios at PMC Physiotherapy Dunboyne and get it checked out.


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