Monthly Archives: October 2015

Snooze you don’t lose: Is sleep the secret ingredient of World Cup success?

By Caroline Heaney

With the Rugby World Cup final taking place this weekend both teams will be looking for the small gains in their preparation that could mean the difference between success and failure. One such area that has received a lot of attention in recent times is sleep. As I’ve discussed in a previous post, recovery is an important part of competing in a major tournament. Both New Zealand and Australia have played six matches on their way to the final, which could take its toll, therefore, how they recover from that demand is vitally important to their chances of success. Sleep is perhaps the ultimate recovery strategy, but why is it considered to be so important?

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is sleep?

Sleep can be defined as a complex state with both physiological and behavioural components where the individual is temporarily disengaged and unresponsive to the environment (Halson, 2013). There are two key stages of sleep – rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM. It is NREM sleep that contains deep sleep (known as slow wave sleep). This is the period that is thought to be particularly important for recovery in sports people.

Why is sleep important for sports people?

Outside of sport a lack of sleep is often considered to have detrimental effect on performance. For example, we are advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery whilst tired. It therefore seems logical to assume that tired athletes are likely to underperform. Anecdotally there are many accounts of sleep, or a lack of it, having a detrimental effect on sporting performance. Whilst the purpose of sleep is not fully understood it is generally accepted that it is required to facilitate recovery and preparation for functioning (both physiological and cognitive) in the next waking period (Fullagar et al., 2015; Halson, 2014). Therefore the sleep an athlete has the night before and in the days leading up to a competition (e.g. Rugby World Cup final) is important. The challenge here is that athletes often report sleeping difficulties the night before an important competition due to pre-competition anxiety or excitement (Juliff, Halson, & Peiffer, 2015). Additionally, the sleep patterns and sleep quality of travelling athletes can be negatively affected by factors such as jet lag, change of routine and unfamiliar surroundings. This is particularly important when the 2015 Rugby World Cup final is to be played by two southern hemisphere teams in a northern hemisphere location. That said, both teams have been in the UK for a while and will have likely established sleeping routines. It would be very surprising if this is not an aspect of recovery that both teams have put strategies in place to address.

What does the research say?

Previous research has suggested that sports performers may be vulnerable to sleep disturbances due to a variety of reasons including early training sessions, poor sleep habits, caffeine use, travel, and pre-competition anxiety. Whilst sleep is a broadly researched area, the body of research examining sleep amongst sports performers is relatively small (Halson, 2014). Research that has examined the relationship between sleep and sports performance has explored the effects of sleep deprivation, partial sleep deprivation/sleep restriction, sleep extension and napping. In their review of the literature Fullagar et al. (2015) concluded that there is evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation has a significant impact on sports performance.

Circadian cycle

The time of day that the World Cup final is held could also have an impact on performance. The World Cup final will be played at 4pm, but Australian fans reportedly requested a change to 8pm. It seems that everyone has an optimal time of day that they perform at their best, dictated by their body clock or circadian cycle. The video below gives a simple explanation of this, splitting athletes into ‘larks’ and ‘owls’. It would appear that a 4pm kick-off favours intermediate types (peak performance around 16:00) rather than pure ‘larks’ (peak performance before 12:00) or ‘owls’ (peak performance around 20:00), whilst the change favoured by Australian fans would favour ‘owls’. However, this simple analogy does not take into account the experience, preparation and complex sleep patterns of the two travelling teams.

Conclusion

Who will win the Rugby World Cup remains to be seen, but it is possible that sleep could be a contributing factor. Sleep appears to be an important part of the athlete’s recovery and preparation and can potentially influence performance, so in order to get a top quality final tomorrow let’s hope that both Australia and New Zealand get a good night’s sleep tonight!

References

Fullagar, H. H. K., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Hammes, D., Coutts, A. J., & Meyer, T. (2015). Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitve responses to exercise. Sports Medicine, 45, 161-186.

Halson, S. (2013). Sleep and the elite athlete. Sports Science Exchange, 26(113), 1-4.

Halson, S. (2014). Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep. Sports Medicine, 44, S13-S23.

Juliff, L. E., Halson, S. L., & Peiffer, J. J. (2015). Understanding sleep disturbance in athletes prior to important competitions. Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport, 18(1), 13-18.

Paralympians makes waves on the world stage but disability reform is badly needed

By Helen Owton

When I was at the Paralympic Games in 2012, I saw a person walk up to a woman in a wheelchair wheeling herself up a slope, grab the handles of her chair and start pushing her up the hill, much to the annoyance and surprise of the woman in the wheelchair. My friend brushed it off as someone only wanting to help, but I saw it as ignorance and a lack of respect, displayed in a venue where we were supposed to be widening our horizons about what disabled athletes can achieve.

Despite progress, negative public attitudes, ignorance and awkwardness about
disability prevail. According to a report by Scope, 67% of the British public feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people and 36% of people tend to think of disabled people as not as productive as everyone else. These attitudes affect every aspect of disabled people’s lives – in the playground, at work, in shops, on the street.

After the London 2012 Games, former Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thomson said it was important to remember how everyone felt in the euphoria of Britain’s success in the Paralympics, but that they are not everyday reality.

While there appeared to be progression on people’s attitudes towards disability at the time, she argued that “more still needs to be done to shift perceptions towards disabled people”. Grey-Thomson points out that disabled people are portrayed as Paralympian superheroes, “benefit scroungers” or victims – but not all three together.

The IPC World Championships in Qatar is an opportunity for these attitudes to be challenged again.

Athletes such as Stef “the blade stunner” Reid from Leicestershire are stretching the boundaries of what is expected of disabled people. She is not only a Paralympian, but also a model who became the first Paralympian amputee to be part of London Fashion week.

Earlier this year, Great Britain’s David Weir won silver in the London Marathon wheelchair race and will compete in the 1,500m and 5,000m against his rival Marcel Hug, “the Swiss Silver Bullet”, in Doha.

The first day of the IPC Athletic World Championships saw six world records smashed; one of these was Great Britain’s Sophie Hahn who won the women’s 100m long jump. Aled Davies also won gold in the shot put where he threw a championship record of 14.95m.

These stories stand in stark contrast to the lives of many disabled people living in the country she is representing on the world stage.

The UK welfare state that was developed as a way of supporting those who were sick, unemployed or who suffered injury is being eroded. We’ve seen a great deal of change to all of these benefits in recent years which has had a detrimental impact; 2,380 people have died after undergoing a work capability assessment (WCA) between 2011-2014 after being told they were “fit for work”.

As Grey-Thomson argues, we should be linking up politics, education, sport, and health and developing more NHS programmes, such as My Voice, My Wheelchair, My Life, which can transform wheelchair services for users and their families.

While athletes might be role models and provide inspiration to others, they can’t be the sole driver behind the need to change attitudes; they can only be part of the change towards a more equitable society. David Weir argues that the momentum has been lost since 2012 and 2013 but let’s hope there is sufficient media coverage so that we are well informed leading into Rio 2016.

The Conversation

Helen Owton, Lecturer in Sport & Fitness, The Open University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The IPC Athletic World Championships: World Class Athletes to watch

By Helen Owton & Karen Howells

Doha, Qatar’s largest growing city and economic centre of Qatar modern will host the IPC Athletics World Championships between 21st and 31st October. Against a backdrop of pollution and in a city that was built on the pearl trade, British athletes will compete amongst 1,300 athletes from 90 countries in a variety of track and field events across a number of different classifications. The IPC has revealed a list of 33 athletes, including a number of British athletes to look out for. Here we look at a selection of those to watch as this is the last major event before Rio Paralympics 2016.

2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, Doha, Qatar

Aled Davies – F42 Discus and Shot Put

Like many successful athletes Aled Davies came from a sports-loving family; as a child he was a good rugby player, a strong swimmer and was selected to swim for Wales. However, at the age of 14, he was invited to try-out for athletics with a group of elite Paralympians which introduced Davies to the throwing events. Born with hemimelia of the right leg, Davies announced to his parents whilst watching the 2004 Athens Paralympic games that he wanted to win a Paralympic gold medal. In 2012, his dream became a reality when he won Gold in the F42 discus and a bronze medal in the shot put. Not only has he won Paralympic medals, but he is the current World and European Champion in the discus and the shot put and World record holder in F42 shot put. Last year, however, appeared to be a difficult year for him. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the F42/44 discus he felt he was thwarted in the final to lose to England’s Dan Greaves and returned to Wales with a silver medal. The year also saw him make the decision to leave his coach of nine years to work with Cardiff’s Ryan Spencer-Jones. Under the guidance of his new coach, these World championships see him lighter, stronger, more technical and more motivated towards medal success; this will be the opportunity to put the disappointment of the last year behind him and to further lay the foundations for success in Rio next year.

Sophie Hahn – T38 100m and 200m

Eighteen year old Sophie Hahn is like any other fun-loving teenager from Leicestershire, she enjoys music, loves animals and enjoys watching rugby. Her friends from her last school affectionately called her Chicken; a derivative of the German meaning of her surname. Like many other girls her age she was enthused by London 2012 and was inspired to join her local Athletics club. But unlike other girls her age Sophie is a World Champion and a World Record Holder in her sport. Only a year after she started running in 2012, Hahn, who has cerebral palsy, competed as a novice at the 2013 IPC Word Championships at the age of 16. At this competition, she faced another novice to international sport in the T38 200m starting a rivalry that is likely to be continued against the backdrop of Doha. Hahn, won her qualifying heat of the 200m with a time of 27.56, a championship record, however, the accolade was short-lived as Veronica Hipolito from Brazil beat her in the final taking both the gold medal and the championship record. Two days later, Hahn turned the tables in the 100m, shattering Hipolito’s world record which had been set in the semi-finals to win gold. Even going beyond this rivalry the T38 class promises to be highly competitive with Russia’s 100m Paralympic and European champion Margarita Gonchorova and China’s 200m Paralympic gold medallist Junfei Chen both vying for medal success.

Hannah Cockcroft, MBE

As a role model to Sophie Hahn, the unbeaten four-time world champion ‘Team Hannah’ is aiming to win three world titles in 2015. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she won 100m and 200m T34 titles and she is set on retaining her world titles at the next World Championships. Having proved her dominance in the sprint events, ‘Hurricane Hannah’ has now set herself a new goal of winning gold in the 800m which appears to be the event she is most determined to win. Last year she won gold at the IPC European Championships in T34 100m and T34 800m. Also, at the IPC Grand Prix she three gold medal; T34 100m, 200m, and 800m, beating Australian rival Rosemary Little. She hold the world record in 4 events: T34 100m (17.31), 200m (30.51), 400m (59.42), 800m (2:04.49) While she keeps a very impressive catalogue of world records and medals, Cockcroft appears to be sufficiently motivated to balance her training with her academic studies by completing a Journalism and Media degree at Coventry University. As she says, “You have to keep working to keep winning”.

Stef ‘the blade stunner’ Reid

Stef Reid is also from Leicestershire; she started competing for Great Britain in 2010. In 2011, she won bronze medals in the 200m and long jump at the IPC Athletics World Championships. In the last Paralympics in London 2012, she won Silver in the T42-44 long jump. In 2013, she had a difficult year, but in 2014 she was back to her best (if not better) by setting a new long jump T44 world record in Glasgow. Also, she appears to be stretching the boundaries for disabled people. She is not only a Paralympian (2014 T44 European long jump Champion; London 2012 T42-44 long jump silver), but also a role model who became the first Paralympian amputee to be part of London Fashion week as a catwalk model which also helps raise the profile of women, Paralympians and disability. The forthcoming the IPC Athletics World Championships will be an opportunity to show off her form in preparation for her aims of winning gold in the Rio Paralympic Games next year.

Stef Reid: A life-changing ambition to win Gold

There are too many world class GB athletes to single out in this article, but we also recommend watching out for Richard Whitehead (T44 200m gold medallist in 2012), Jonnie Peacock (T44 100m gold medallist in 2012), David Weir (800m, 1500m, 5,000m and marathon gold medallist in 2012), Paul Blake (silver in T36 400m and bronze in T36 800m in 2012), the SportAid one to watch – Hollie Arnold (ranked No 1 in the world), and newcomer Sophie Kamlish (T44 100m and 200m). David Weir argues that the momentum has been lost since 2012 and 2013 but this is an exciting event not to be missed as this is probably the last big event before the Rio Paralympic Games 2016.

1 Year To Go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Raising the profile of The OU Sport & Fitness Team – Please RT!

By Caroline Heaney & Helen Owton


At the FELS Learning and Teaching conference in October 2015, Caroline Heaney and Helen Owton gave a presentation on “Using social media to raise your profile”. The aim of the presentation was to share the Open University (OU) Sport and Fitness Team’s experience of using social media and consider whether this had worked in raising the profile of the qualification area. This article provides a summary of the key metrics discussed in the presentation.

IDidntKnowSport and fitness qualifications have been available at the OU since 2008, yet anecdotally knowledge of the availability of these did not appear widespread. Using social media was identified as a low-budget strategy for raising the profile of the qualification. The social media strategy adopted by the Sport and Fitness team primarily involves the use of three media – Twitter, team blog and The Conversation.

Twitter

TwitterThe OU Sport and Fitness Twitter account was launched in October 2012 and has created 1,316 tweets collecting 640 followers to date which consists of students, Associate Lecturers, Open University accounts and others. This is mainly used to share relevant articles, engage with students and direct traffic to the blog. The @OU_Sport Twitter account currently has a ‘Klout score’ (measure of online impact) of 45, which is slightly above the average of 40.

Blog

BlogThe OU Sport and Fitness team blog was started in February 2014. It was initially only active during major sporting events (e.g. Winter Olympics/Paralympics, Commonwealth Games), but has been active all year round since May 2015. To date, there have been 85 posts (mean: 5 posts/month) written by all 8 members of the academic team team. Engagement from the entire team is key to the success of the blog. The articles posted on the blog are also sometimes posted in other locations (e.g. OpenLearn, The Conversation), and are publicised through Twitter and the Faculty Facebook page.  Data collected since May 2015 shows that the blog receives an average of 1,173 page views per month (range 707-1,819), with a high percentage of new visitors (mean = 85%). The blog is predominantly viewed by UK audiences, but does have a worldwide audience.

The Conversation

ConversationThe Conversation is “a collaboration between editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish”. It therefore provides a platform for academics to disseminate academic knowledge in an accessible format. The Sport and Fitness team have published 21 articles in The Conversation to date. The Conversation has a wide reach and at 17th September 2015 articles written by the team had received 63,354 views, which equates to a mean of 3,017 views per article (20 articles) and a range of 640-17,239 views per article.

Is it worth it?

The team believe that engaging with social media has been highly effective in raising the external profile of Sport and Fitness at The Open University. Additionally, the team have derived further benefits through engaging with social medial such as being able to communicate with students, developing a sport and fitness community, and disseminating research findings more widely.

Thank you to everyone who has followed, supported and re-tweeted us.

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/OU_Sport

Blog http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/OU-Sport

The Conversation https://theconversation.com/uk

 

 

Recovery at the Rugby World Cup

By Caroline Heaney

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recovery has reportedly become a ‘hot topic’ at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Competing in a major tournament such as the Rugby World Cup can take its toll on the body. Rugby is a physically demanding sport that fatigues the body, so it’s important for players to be able to recover effectively and bounce back ready for the next match. Teams that reach the final of the Rugby World Cup will have played seven matches and that can be tough for the body to cope with, even amongst elite athletes. Although both teams in the final will have played the same number of games, they may not have had the same experience. One team, for example, will have an extra day of rest since the two semi-finals are played on consecutive days. Additionally, one team may have a more gruelling semi-final than the other which could give their opposition an advantage. How well they recover from that gruelling match could make all the difference to the result. A lack of adequate recovery was reported to be an influencing factor in Japan’s defeat at the hands of Scotland after such a spectacular opening match against South Africa. Consequently sports performers often employ recovery strategies to speed up and maximise their recovery between matches. In this article we will review three commonly used strategies: cryotherapy, compression clothing and massage.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy can be defined as the lowering of tissue temperature in order to achieve a therapeutic objective (in this case to enhance recovery). There are various modes of cryotherapy, but ice baths were traditionally the most common mode used by athletes, however increasingly whole body cryotherapy is being used. Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) is where athletes are exposed to very low temperature rooms or chambers. Cryotherapy is openly used by elite rugby players. The Wales team, for example, were using cryotherapy in preparation for last World Cup in 2011 and reportedly stepped into a cryotherapy chamber soon after their victory over England on 26th September.

Cryotherapy is thought to reduce some of the negative symptoms associated with intensive exercise such as muscle soreness and inflammation, and increase waste transportation, but what evidence is there to support this? It would appear not a huge amount. A recent review found only limited evidence to support WBC as a recovery tool and concluded that it may make no difference to muscle soreness or even make the pain worse. Interestingly, when questioned on this a spokesperson from Welsh Rugby stated that despite the lack of evidence they continue to use it because they “think it works”. This indicates the importance of belief in a treatment and the potential for the placebo effect to influence recovery when using cryotherapy.

Compression clothing

Compression garments are the items of tight clothing worn by athletes that have highly elastic properties which provide compression. These garments have become commonplace in rugby, but what is the theory behind them and why are they thought to aid recovery? It is logical to assume that compression is beneficial to recovery due to some of its other uses e.g. in the treatment of sports injuries or the use of flight socks to avoid developing deep vein thrombosis. Compression garments are suggested to enhance recovery by reducing the swelling and inflammation that occurs in response to intensive exercise. The theory is that the compression creates an external pressure gradient thus minimising the space available for swelling, but what does the research evidence show?

In their meta-analysis of 12 compression garment studies Hill et al. (2014) concluded that there is evidence that compression garments are moderately effective in enhancing recovery from exercise induced muscle damage. So it would seem that there is some value to using compression garments to aid recovery.

Massage

Massage is commonly used by rugby players to enhance their recovery between matches, for example, the England rugby team use massage as an integral part of their recovery and match preparation. Whilst massage is a well established recovery strategy, there is a surprising lack of scientific evidence to support its use. Brummitt (2008) in his review of the literature concluded that the research has failed to show that massage has a significant impact on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or other measures of recovery. More recently, after reviewing the literature, Nelson (2013) concluded that massage has a promising role to play in reducing DOMS, but urged caution due to the variability in study methodology. This identifies one of the key issues that has stunted massage research – individual differences. Each massage therapist develops their own individual massage style, making comparisons between therapists problematic. Additionally, factors such as the depth of pressure applied, muscle groups involved, ambient temperature, and time of day may all affect the impact of a massage. Consequently, it appears that what is lacking from the body of research evidence is guidance on what techniques, timings and dosages are optimal for recovery.

Conclusion

It is likely that players in the Rugby World Cup will be engaging in a wide variety of recovery strategies during the tournament, including, but not limited those outlined in this article. While the scientific evidence to support these strategies is still relatively limited, they are widely adopted by players and players appear to believe that they are effective. This is perhaps the most important factor of all – if an athlete believes that a strategy will help them recover, they will feel more confident going into their next game and that can only be a good thing.

 

The science behind recovery strategies in sport will be covered in a new OU Sport and Fitness level 3 module coming soon.

For more Rugby World Cup related articles, visit the OpenLearn Rugby World Cup Hub.

Rugby: A sport for sampling or specialisation?

By Jessica Pinchbeck

With the World Cup now upon us my household is at fever pitch and my six year old son is mesmerised by the strength, skill and speed of the players. He is a keen rugby player himself and has been attending training at the local club since he was four. However despite his passion for the sport he is yet to define himself as ‘a rugby player’ as he also participates in a range of other sports including football, swimming and golf.  This is similar to most of his rugby teammates who also take part in a range of sports from ballet to ice-hockey. However the majority of his football teammates tend to only play football, football and more football. So what is the best approach? Should my son choose to focus on rugby, the sport he excels at the most, and forget the rest? Would that make him a better rugby player and increase his chances of reaching elite level? What are the benefits and risks of such early specialisation?

Kelsey E ] via Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/kelseye/786999279

Kelsey E via Flickr Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/kelseye/786999279

Early Specialisation

Early specialisation is a hot topic at the moment with youth sports becoming more and more susceptible to commercial pressures and parents and coaches often encouraging children to participate in intensive training and highly competitive events in their specialised sport at a young age. There are various definitions for early specialisation however typically it involves continual year-round training in a single sport between the ages of 6 and 12 years with a specific focus on development in that sport. One of the main arguments for endorsing early specialisation is the positive relationship between the amounts of time spent in deliberate practice i.e. highly effortful and structured activity, and the level of achievement attained. Therefore in theory, the earlier you start practicing the earlier it is that you are likely to ‘make it’ to the top level. However this is a very simple outlook and this linear approach has been questioned in relation to sports performance. Although deliberate practice is considered important the exact requirements of the type and amount of such practice remains in question.

Currently the general consensus is that sampling a range of sports throughout childhood provides the best grounding for both progressing onto a higher level in a chosen sport as well as for continued participation into adulthood. Sampling allows for the transfer of cognitive skills and physiological conditioning to different sports. There is also strong evidence that in sports where peak performance is reached into adulthood specialisation does not need to occur before the age of 13. So how does this apply to rugby?

Rugby is a sport where peak performance is typically achieved later into adulthood. This corresponds to statistics from the previous World Cup winners where the RFU calculated average team ages of 27 (Australia), 28 (England), 27 (South Africa) and 28 (New Zealand). In their 2015 squad New Zealand have opted for experience including four players who have played in four world cups and France have just one player under the age of 25 with an average age of 29.1. Rugby players are thought to benefit from late specialisation whereby players sample different sporting activities to develop physical, psychological and sociological skills that benefit their rugby performance.

‘Rugby is a late maturation sport, further complicated by the different maturation rates that tend to apply to the different positions. There is also a wide consensus based on statistical evidence that selection for elite training and specialisation would be more effective if delayed until after maturation, that period of maximum growth and change. In practice, almost all sports begin such selection rather earlier. So the RFU and the Regional Academies must continue to encourage both early engagement and late specialisation in the sport.’ (England Rugby, 2013)

However according to rugby journalist Stephen Jones this is not happening within English rugby with Rugby Schools dominating and the quest for talent forcing children to specialise and be identified earlier. Interestingly in the England 2015 World Cup Squad Stuart Lancaster has eighteen players aged under 27 including youngsters Luke Cowan-Dickie (20), Elliot Daly (22), Maro Itoje (20) and Henry Slade (22) who have progressed through the player development pathway, which would suggest that the system is working to some extent. It would be interesting to know if these players were early specialisers. However one could also argue that the current system encourages early talent identification and specialisation which can often fail to distinguish between potential and performance and so for those players such as Cowan-Dickie and Itoje that make it to the top level many potentially elite youngsters have been disregarded. There is also evidence to suggest that early specialisation poses risks to the young athletes.

What are the risks of early specialisation?

Evidence suggests that early specialisation can lead to negative consequences, both physically and mentally. Early sport specialisation may increase rates of overuse injury and sport burnout, showing higher training volumes to be a factor in injury with injuries more likely to occur during the adolescent growth spurt. Evidence also suggests that athletes who had early specialised training withdrew from their sport either due to injury or burnout from the sport. This is particularly important for contact sports such as rugby.

As well as the physical risk of injury the main psycho-social risks of early specialisation include decreased sport enjoyment, low intrinsic motivation, compromised social development, social isolation, dropout, psychological burnout, and even the potential to lead to eating disorders in some sports. In contrast early sampling is thought to lead to sport expertise because of the intrinsic motivation that stems from the fun, enjoyment, and competence children experience through their sporting involvement (Côté & Hay, 2002).

What is the answer?

With early specialisation becoming more prominent despite the evidence documenting the risks the IOC have issued a consensus statement with a range of recommendations for those involved in youth sport. For example acknowledging that each child will develop at different rates due to varying responses to training. Developing children holistically, to provide a foundation that will help them be successful in life as well as in sport and ensuring steps are taken to prevent injury. In addition the IOC challenge governing bodies to embrace the recommendations which are based on academic evidence to ensure youth sport is healthier, inclusive, sustainable and long-term. Johnny Wilkinson is a good example of this ideal:

‘I have always loved rugby but have also been fortunate to play a whole host of different sports from a young age. I hope that all children have similar enjoyable opportunities to play and keep active throughout their lives’.

Evidence suggests that in a sport such as rugby there is no place for early specialisation and in fact participating in a range of different sports would provide a better foundation for performance as well as continued participation. So to answer my earlier question I will continue to support my son in his rugby but also encourage him to continue sampling a range of activities to promote a positive sports experience that hopefully continues into adulthood.

Gender and Inequalities in Sport Conference

diverse-hands-painting

*UPDATE: THE DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS HAS NOW PASSED. PLEASE SEE HERE FOR AN UPDATED POST

This event focuses on the theme of equality in sport which seeks to engage debates about gender, sexuality, race, disability and multiple forms of representing this sort of research. In light of the move towards being able to communicate our research to the wider community, new forms of representations can be beneficial, purposeful and intentionally effective when aiming to communicate sensory, emotional, collective memories, intergenerational, and personal stories. Therefore, there will also be a focus on alternative and innovative forms of research.

Date:                           Thurs 17 March 2016

Location:                   Mercure Parkside, Milton Keynes

Event:                         10-5pm, 7pm evening conference dinner

Cost:                           £55 (includes lunch & conference dinner)

Various presenters will be discussing their own specialized research on these topics that include:

  • Prof Kath Woodward – gender and sport, Emeritus Professor at The Open University, UK
  • Prof Vikki Krane – social justice in sport, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA
  • Dr Jayne Caudwell – LGBT and sport, Associate Professor, Bournemouth University, UK
  • Dr Kitrina Douglas, Leeds Beckett University, UK

CALL FOR PAPERS!

Also, we have a call for papers for delegates (e.g. PhD students to researchers with expertise in their field) to present their research (poster or oral presentation).

Abstract word limit: 300 words

Themes to evolve around gender, sexuality, race, disability, feminist methodology, reflective accounts, and multiple forms of representing these topics.

Deadline: Mon 30 November 2015

          Please send your abstracts to Hannah Leicester.

There will be 2 prizes (Amazon vouchers) that will be awarded for the following:

  • POSTER PRIZE
  • PRESENTATION PRIZE

To register please contact Hannah Leicester to book a place and to make payment.  Payment options are cheque or card payment over the telephone.

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