Abstract Call for 4th Annual OU Sport & Fitness Conference – My Child: The Athlete

My Child: The Athlete

Tickets are on sale now – Click here to register!

The 4th annual OU Sport and Fitness Conference focuses on youth development in sport with particular attention paid to contemporary issues such as:

  • Youth physical development

    E.g. Strength and conditioning, injury prevention, physical literacy, skill acquisition

  • Psychological development

    E.g. Building resilience, coping with and learning from failure

  • Parental support for talented athletes

    E.g. Research to support parents of talented athletes, effects on siblings and family members, family dynamics and youth development

  • Coaching considerations when working with children

    E.g. planning training and practice, coaching behaviours, managing expectations, managing the needs of each athlete

With three world-leading keynotes confirmed, this promises to be an illuminating and thought provoking two days:

Toni Minichiello – Coach to GB’s 2012 gold medal-winning Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill. (Day 1 evening keynote presenter)

Dr Jean CôtéProfessor at Queen’s University, Canada and world-renowned researcher within the fields of youth sports and coach development. @JeanCote46

Dr Camilla Knight – Associate Professor at Swansea University and leading expert on the psychosocial experiences of children in sport, with a particular focus upon the influence of parents. @cjknight

Whether you’re an academic, a student, a coach, teacher or parent, we invite you to join us for two action packed days full of dissemination, discussion, and learning opportunities.

Call for Abstracts (Now Open for Submissions):

The OU Sport and Fitness Conference team invites the submission of abstracts for consideration as either an oral or poster presentation. Submissions may have either an academic or applied focus resonating with the themes of the conference (see above bullet points). We would also welcome submissions which report on research in progress or the initial stages of development.

Please download the abstract submission guidelines here:

Abstract Submission Guidelines

Delegates:

Click here to register!

Full conference packages:
Access to the whole two days – keynotes and breakout sessions
Three course conference dinner on day 1*
Lunch and refreshments on both days

*Please note – we have a limited number of tickets for the evening session – book early to avoid disappointment.

Evening only package*:
Access to the evening session on day 1
Keynote presentation from Toni Minichiello
Q&A Panel with Toni, Dr Jean Côté and Dr Camilla Knight
Three course conference dinner

*Please note – the evening session will take place at Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre, MK7 6BZ. There are a limited number of tickets available for this session so please book early to avoid disappointment. 

Twitter

Don’t forget to follow us for all the latest conference updates: @OU_SportConf and use the hashtag #OUSportConf to share that you’ve registered!

 

We look forward to welcoming you to My Child: The Athlete in March 2019!

For any conference queries please contact WELS-Research-Events@open.ac.uk

 

Review of the Competing in the Dark: Mental Health in Sport Conference, March 2018

On 21st March 2018 we held our third annual sport and fitness conference, which explored the important topic of mental health in sport. By chance the conference coincided with the announcement that the government would be putting in place a mental health action plan for elite athletes. This timely event fuelled the enthusiasm for the topic before the day had even begun. We were joined by top class presenters and delegates from a wide range of backgrounds which led to some rich discussions on mental health.

MORNING SESSION

The morning session saw three diverse presentations from three of our keynote speakers. These presentations allowed us to examine mental health from the perspective of the athlete, researcher and professional body.

Keynote 1: Helen Richardson-Walsh, MBE
Reflections on a career in elite sport

The day kicked off with and inspiring and often emotional presentation from 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh.

Keynote 2: Jessie Barr, University of Limerick
Mental health stigma within an Irish sport context

Next up was our our invited PhD student speaker Jessie Barr who shared her research exploring mental health in elite athletes. Jessie’s presentation saw her draw on her fairly unique position of being a both a researcher and an Olympian.

Keynote 3: Richard Bryan, Rugby Players’ Association
Lift the weight: A player association perspective on mental health in professional sport

In our final keynote presentation before lunch Richard Bryan shared some of the the positive work that is being done to support the mental well-being of rugby players.

 

AFTERNOON SESSION

The afternoon session started with the parallel sessions where a wealth of diverse and informative presentations took place. These were followed by the poster presentations. Congratulations to Emily Lake (Career ending injury experiences of professional rugby players: A loss perspective) for winning the prize for best poster (sponsored by Switch the Play).

The day ended with our final keynote session from Dr Kitrina Douglas and Dr David Carless ‘“I couldn’t be successful without it being the most important thing”: The impact of stories on mental health in sport‘. This innovative session explored mental health in sport using stories and narrative case studies. The session was highly impactful and a fitting end to what was excellent day thanks to all of our presenters and delegates.

Click on the links below to view other posts about the Competing in the Dark Conference.

Conference: Competing in the Dark – Mental Health in Sport, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 21st March 2018

Competing in the Dark Conference Flyer

 

Join our team: Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Salary: £39,992 – £47,722
Location: Milton Keynes
Reference: 14942
Closing date: 24th August 2018 (5pm)

We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing online teaching and engaging in research that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching. You will be a specialist in sport and exercise psychology, with a good knowledge of a range of other sport and exercise related topics, including coaching, and be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues to develop distinctive distance learning materials for students and wider public engagement.

You will join a team which has developed an innovative approach to Sport, Exercise and Coaching education based on our expertise in distance education and will contribute to the maintenance of our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum (e.g. new modules and qualifications).

You must have a higher degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology or a related field, an established research profile, and an excellent knowledge of approaches to studying this area. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly, sometimes outside of your subject area, for a diverse student audience and have proven experience of teaching in higher education.

Job Related Information (including person specification)

Information about Sport and Fitness qualifications at The Open University

Information about the Sport and Fitness team at The Open University

Click here for more information and to apply

 

What do the Numbers Really Mean? Interpreting England’s Match Statistics at the World Cup

By Alex Twitchen

It won’t have escaped most people’s attention that the World Cup begins on Thursday 14th June with Russia, the tournament hosts, playing Saudi Arabia.  England begin their campaign on Monday 18th June against Tunisia with a more muted sense of expectation than before.  As in previous tournaments England’s matches will be dissected by an army of pundits ready to offer their expert verdict on the team’s performances, but during this World Cup every pass, movement and attempt on goal will be scrutinised and supplemented by an increasing array of statistics that try to provide a more insightful analysis of each game.  Whether on television, newspapers or through social media you will find England’s performances measured by such things as: time in possession of the ball, number of shots attempted, the quality of these shots, percentage of completed passes, number of corners and free-kicks awarded or conceded, distance covered by each player, and the types of passes between players.  But what do these statistics really mean, how, as spectators and fans, might we interpret these numbers and use them to inform our own verdict on England’s performances?  In this blog I will outline two of the most commonplace statistics and show why we should treat them with a degree of scepticism if we really want to know how well or badly England have played.

Time in possession of the ball

One of the most common metrics used is time in possession of the ball.  Since the inauguration of the Premier League in 1992 the title winning team have been in possession of the ball for an average of about 55% to 60% of the time across all their games during the entire season.  Leicester’s amazing 2015-16 title performance is the exception since they won the league averaging just 44% of possession.  During the 2017-18 season Manchester City averaged just under 72% of possession but Swansea were relegated despite averaging 45% of possession which was more possession than 7th placed Burnley (44%), 10th placed Newcastle (42%) and 15th placed Brighton (44%).  Putting this another way Swansea were relegated having had more possession during the season than Leicester had when they won the title two years earlier.

Whilst having more possession of the ball is important, it is not necessarily a reliable measure of success.   Arsenal fans might appreciate this observation when their team lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United last December with Utd being in possession of the ball for just 27% of the game (https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/arsenal-fc_manchester-united/statistik/spielbericht/2872256).

If we require a further lesson we should look back to the last European Championships when England lost to Iceland having had possession for 68% of the game and making twice the number of passes.  It is possible that England could, like Leicester, defy the numbers and win the World Cup having had less possession over the course of the tournament than their opponents.  This is unlikely, but we should exercise caution in assuming that having more possession of the ball is a straightforward indicator of a successful performance.

The number of successful passes completed

Another popular metric that you may see concerns the percentage of passes each player and the team successfully completes.  As with percentage possession time the number of successfully completed passes can be mis-leading because it does not identify the type of pass, where on the pitch the pass was made or the extent to which the pass helped to create, either directly or indirectly, a goal scoring chance.  Take this as an example, a Centre-Back has a pass completion rate of 85%, on face value this seems pretty good but when we look more closely at the passes we see that they are predominantly short passes played backwards and sideways when not under any pressure from an opponent and unlikely to help create a goal scoring chance.  Compare this to another Centre-Back whose pass completion rate is only 50% but many of these completed passes have helped to create a better attacking threat and led to more goal scoring attempts.  In this example you begin to wonder about the value of the metric since it tells us very little about the outcome of the actual passes completed.

Final thoughts

This World Cup and England’s performance, like no other previous tournament, will be dissected, analysed and examined through the application of statistical metrics.  Yet, as with any form of statistical analysis, we should ask important questions about what the numbers mean and how they might otherwise be interpreted.  What seems an impressive number could actually distort our understanding of what is really happening on the pitch.  The increasing use of statistics in football is certainly welcomed and provides some different insights into the game, but we should also view them from a critical and sceptical perspective and not let these numbers dominate our interpretation and understanding of the game.

Student Story: John Curd (part 2)

Back in 2016 we featured John Curd in one of our ‘student stories’. John has a truly inspirational story and shows how studying with the OU can really turn your life around. John has now completed his BSc (hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching and recently attended his graduation ceremony. As you can see from the photographs he had a great day. As one of our older graduates John is proof that’s it’s never to late to achieve your dreams. We are very proud John and all of our sport and fitness graduates. If you have recently graduated and would like to share your graduation photos and/or tell us what your graduation day was like please contact us at WELS-Sports@open.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read part 1 of John’s student story click here.

To read all of our student stories click here.

Join our Team: Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Coaching

We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing teaching activities and engaging in research/scholarship that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching. You will have good knowledge of a range of sport and exercise related topics and be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues to develop high quality distance learning materials for students and for wider public engagement.

You will join a team which has developed an innovative approach to Sport and Fitness education based on our expertise in distance education, and will contribute to the maintenance of our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum developments (e.g. new modules, Masters degree, higher/degree level Apprenticeship).

You must have a higher degree or equivalent professional knowledge in Sport and Fitness or a related field and a good understanding of approaches to studying this topic. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly and cogently for a diverse student audience and have some experience of teaching in higher education.

Job Related Information (including person specification)

Information about Sport and Fitness qualifications at The Open University

Information about the Sport and Fitness team at The Open University

Click here to apply

Closing date: Thursday 16th April 2018 (5pm)

 

PyeongChang 2018 Part 2: Speed, skill and risk….. The fearless are back!

By Candice Lingam-Willgoss

 

 

Just as the dust has started to settle on the most successful Winter Olympics to date for Great Britain a new team of superstars have landed in PyeongChang.  Today sees the start of the Paralympics which run from 9 to 18 March 2018. With 80 medals up for grabs in six Paralympic sports the next 10 days promise to excite, amaze, and inspire the next generation of Para-athletes.

A reminder: where is Pyeongchang?

Pyeongchang is located in the Taebaek Mountains of South Korea, approximately 180km east of the capital city Seoul. Pyeongchang will be the third Asian city to host the Winter Games; the first two were in Japan, at Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).  Events are taking place at two main locations Alpensia Resort and Gangneug Olympic park with several other standalone venues for the snow based sports.

What events are there?

There are six winter Paralympic sports:

  • Alpine skiing
  • Biathlon
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Ice sledge hockey
  • Snowboarding
  • Wheelchair curling

This is the first time that snowboarding has been added as a separate discipline and will include banked slalom and board cross.

Can Team GB win any medals?

In short yes, Team GB are sending their biggest team since 2006 comprising of 17 athletes across 5 of the 8 disciplines (Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and wheelchair curling).

The biggest medal prospect has to be Millie Knight, having lost her sight at aged six she became the youngest person ever to compete for Team GB at the Winter Paralympic games in Sochi at only 15 years old.  Roll forward 4 years and she is coming into the Pyeongchang games having won a gold and two silver’s at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy.  Let’s see if she and her guide Brett Wild can improve on her 5th place she got at Sochi.

With snowboarding featuring for the first time as its own discipline the trio of GB Paralympic snowboarders are a group to watch. Flag bearer Owen Pick lost his leg following an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010 and saw snowboarding on the television during his rehab.  In the 2017 World Championships Pick won silver in the banked slalom and he is hoping for a double at this year’s games where he will also compete in the snowboard cross event.

2 years ago Scott Meenagh hadn’t put on a pair of cross country skis but he surprised the winter sport’s world and has qualified in six events over two disciplines of cross-country and biathlon.

Others to watch

The Canadian cross-country specialist Brian McKeever has 10 Winter Paralympic gold medals to his name already and while he may not be able to surpass the success of Germany’s Gert Schonfelder’s who currently has 16 medals he could get a step closer in Pyeongchang.

French alpine skier Marie Bochet competed in 4 events in Sochi 2014 and won them all, in Pyeongchang she aims to go one better and is competing in five events saying ‘I want to win … all the time’

Home advantage may not be something regularly associated with winter sports but Korea are hoping it helps them in their quest for their first ever winter Paralympic gold. A medal is a possibility potentially from alpine skier Jae Rim Yang.

So for now sit back and watch round 2 of the entertainment on the snow and ice.

 

Sir Roger Bannister Dies

By Helen Owton

At the age of 88 years old, “Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3 March 2018” his family said he was “surrounded by his family who were as loved by him, as he was loved by them”. He was best known in sport for breaking the four minute mile barrier (3mins, 59.4s) on 6 May 1954, nearly 60 years ago.

Something that he worked relentlessly to achieve remembering that, “I felt suddenly and gloriously free of the burden of athletic ambition that I had been carrying for years” (The First Four Minutes). He held the record for 46 days when John Landy, Bannister’s rival, ran a mile in 3mins, 57.9s in Finland on 21 June 1954. Indeed, breaking the four minute mile barrier was a giant sporting achievement particularly in light of the lack of training techniques, research and technology that currently exists today.

Life After Sport

Nonetheless, Sir Roger said, “None of my athletics was the greatest achievement, my medical work has been my greatest achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren. Those are my real achievements”.

For many, however, “Life after sport can be a challenging time, but it needn’t be. It’s a wonderful opportunity for reinvention.” (Richard Branson). Ending a career in sport can be a particularly challenging transition which can have cognitive, emotional and behavioural effects on individuals (Taylor and Ogilvie, 1994).  Many athletes struggle with life after sport particularly those who are ‘performance’ focused with a strong athletic identity whereas athletes more focused on ‘discovery’ tend to discuss life after sport more positively (Douglas and Carless, 2015). The transition from sport to life after sport can be even more disruptive if it was not planned (e.g. a career ending injury) (Allen-Collinson and Hockey, 2007). Regardless, if not supported, the dramatic transition can elicit stressful reactions and difficulty adjusting emotionally (Lavallee, Gordon & Grove, 1997).

Athletic careers have a short shelf life with athletes ordinarily retiring before their mid-late thirties, but Sir Roger was able to put his great sporting achievements in perspective and set his sights on other meaningful purposes enabling him to live a full life enriched by family and medical breakthroughs.

End of life

The irony of Sir Roger Bannister being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a medical field he had worked a lifetime in, is not lost on me. My Grandfather was diagnosed with bowel cancer after his wife, Joan Bebbington, had dedicated so much of her life working for Mr Douglas Macmillan (now known as Macmillan cancer). Similarly, another sporting legend, Muhammad Ali, also developed the degenerative brain disease Parkinson’s and died in 2016 at the age of 74 years.

Sir Roger may have argued, as a neuroscientist, that the brain is the most critical organ but the loss of a loved one will be felt most critically in all our hearts.

Olympic Mums: Juggling motherhood with elite sport.

By Candice Lingam-Willgoss

Zoe Gillings-Brier and her daughter Léa

One of the most significant life transitions that females can face are those related to pregnancy and motherhood. This transition can be all the more meaningful for active females due to both the physical implications and challenges related to gender ideology which can lead to conflict positing that women’s true role is to have and care for children (Weedon, 1997).

Traditionally women at elite levels have been expected to retire once they have children and this is factored into their retirement planning both because of expectations that they’ll be taking on childcare and because of the physiological impact of childbirth. However, it is becoming more and more common for elite athletes to decide to pursue their athletic career alongside motherhood and strive for both career and maternal success.  One such athlete is Snowboard Cross athlete Zoe Gillings-Briar who is competing in her 4th Olympics in PyeongChang; but her first as a mother.  She became mother to Léa in August 2016 and has openly discussed how she has taken inspiration from Jess Ennis-Hill “To see how Jess came back after pregnancy was awesome and hugely inspiring” (Gillings-Brier, 2016 cited in BBC Sport, 2016).

Zoe Gillings-Brier

Winning Mums

Ennis-Hill is not the only elite athlete to return to winning form following the birth of her son Reggie. McGannon et al (2012) explored the experiences of Paula Radcliffe following her return to competition after the birth of her first child, she came back and won the 2007 New York marathon 10 months after giving birth to her daughter. Likewise, five time Olympian Jo Pavey also re-wrote the history books at the 2014 European Championships winning the 10,000m gold to become the oldest female European champion in history, and like Radcliffe she did this 10 months after giving birth to her second child. More recently, Serena Williams has begun her comeback following the birth of her first child in September 2017, and while she has suffered some setbacks she is adamant that she aims to regain the top spot in the woman’s game (BBC sport, 2018).

Does type of sport make a difference?

With optimal fertility often falling at the same time as peak performance the decision to have a baby is often a meticulously planned for event in the case of an elite athletes (Cunnama, 2017). While research looking at the area of physical activity during pregnancy suggests that being physically active is beneficial to both mother and foetus not all forms of physical activity or sport will be appropriate (Barakat et al., 2015). It is recommended that higher risk sports such as those with risk of trauma (e.g. hockey), physiological risk (e.g. scuba diving) and collision (e.g. downhill skiing) should be avoided (Barakat et al., 2015). In contrast research exploring low risk sports has indicated that it is possible for competitive athletes to maintain strenuous regimes during their pregnancy and train at high volume (Kardel, 2005).  This can result in a return to high intensity training postpartum and a more rapid return to competition (Erdener and Budgett, 2016).   There are also a number of examples of athletes who have competed while pregnant such as Beach Volleyball player Walsh Jenning who competed at 5 weeks pregnant and rifle shooter Mohammed Taibi who competed at 8 months pregnant.  These two examples from the London 2012 Olympic games illustrate that type of sport has a clear bearing on what an elite athlete is still able to do during pregnancy.

This was explored further by McGannon and Schinke (2013) who looked at the different experiences of athletes from different types of sport specifically those that requiring specialist settings and significant travel for competition and training. Both of these factors can take a mother away from her family subsequently making a return to training and competition even more problematic.  This is one such challenge faced by the majority of Winter sports athletes if they don’t live in a location with easy access to snow or ice.  This is particularly pertinent to the return of Zoe Gillings-Brier who’s sport of Snowboard Cross requires not just snow but also a boardcross piste.  One might think this would make it impossible to juggle motherhood and sport but Gillings-Brier credits her supportive family with making this possible and allowing her to take Lea on the circuit with her (BBC Sport, 2018)

Why comeback?

Putting these potential challenges aside Gillings-Brier has made it back and aims to make this her best games yet after placing inside the top 10 in snowboard cross for the past two Games. But what makes an athlete who has already competed at 3 Olympics decide to go for a fourth? This may be related to something Paula Radcliffe (2014) has discussed ‘As an athlete, when you become pregnant, your sport does not just go out of the window because it is a big part of who you are’.

This relates closely to the concept of athletic identity, ’the degree to which an individual identifies with the athlete role’ (Brewer et al, 1993, p. 237).  They suggest that having a high athletic identity might limit an individual from possessing a multi-dimensional self-concept and they will see themselves almost exclusively as an athlete and in that role. This high level of athletic identity can result in more adjustment difficulties when faced with career transitions (for example, motherhood) (Martin et al, 2014).  Therefore the challenge can be both the need to manage multiple identities and balance the selflessness of being a mother with the selfishness required to train and compete at elite level.  However, research suggests that becoming a mother potentially gives the athlete a different perspective on their sport and that motherhood makes them a better athlete as they feel complete in all areas of their life (McGannon et al, 2012).  This is echoed by Gillings-Brier who has said that she has a new motivation and confidence in her performance since becoming a mother as she knows the better she does at the games the better future she can give her daughter (BBC News, 2018).

Other mums to watch

Three times world cup winner US Cross-country skier Kikkan Randall is competing in her fifth Olympics. She gave birth to her son in 2016 and has been instrumental in improving the provision for mothers at elite sporting events. French freestyle half pipe skier Marie Martinod returned to the sport in 2011 having had a family, a silver a Sochi and a win at the 2017 X Games sees her as one of the favourites for gold in her event.  Finally Marit Bjoergen the Norwegian cross-country skiing sensation who became a mother in 2015 is the joint holder of the record for most medals won by a female Winter Olympian (10) a record she is aiming to surpass at Pyeongchang.  So while there is bound to be some trepidation at leaving their children for the three weeks of the Games let’s hope Gillings-Brier and all the Olympic mums can make their children and their country proud.

 

Watch Zoe take on the Snowboard cross course on Friday 16th February 2018

References

Barakat, R., Perales, M., Garatachea, N., Ruiz, J.R. and Lucia, A., 2015. Exercise during pregnancy. A narrative review asking: what do we know? British journal of sports medicine, 49(21), pp.1377-1381.

BBC Sport (2016) ‘Zoe Gillings-Brier inspired by Ennis-Hill for 2018 Winter Olympics’ [online]. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/winter-sports/35599601 (Accessed 7th February 2018)

BBC Sport (2017) ‘Serena Williams to make comeback in Abu Dhabi after giving birth’ [online]. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/42472273 (Accessed 6th February 2018)

BBC Sport (2018) ‘Pyeongchang 2018: Manx snowboarder to make GB history’ [online]. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/winter-olympics/42820064 (Accessed 8th February, 2018)

Brewer, B, Van Raalte, J, and Linder, D. (1993) ‘Athletic identity: Hercules’ muscles or Achilles heel?’ International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24, 2. 237-254

Cunnama, J. (2017) ‘Chronicles of a pregnancy athlete’ [vlog]. Available at https://en-gb.facebook.com/jodieann.swallow/posts/1283077375146152. (Accessed 19th May 2017

Erdener, U. and Budgett, R., 2016. ‘Exercise and pregnancy: focus on advice for the competitive and elite athlete’. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 50 (10), pp. 567

Gillings-Brier, Z., (2016) Zoe Gillings-Brier: Life as a Mum [online]. Available at http://www.sealy.co.uk/about-sealy/inside-sealy/sealy-blog/2016/october/zoe-gillings-brier-life-as-a-mum!/ (Accessed 7th February 2018)

Kardel, K.R., 2005. Effects of intense training during and after pregnancy in top‐level athletes. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 15(2), pp.79-86.

Martin, L., Fogarty, G., and Albion, M. (2014) ‘Changes in athletic identity and life satisfaction of elite athletes as a function of retirement status’, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26, 96-110.

McGannon, K., R., Curtin, K., Schinke, R., J., & Schweinbenz, A. (2012) ‘(De) Constructing Paula Radcliffe: Exploring media representation of elite running, pregnancy and motherhood through cultural sport psychology’ Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 13, pp. 820-829.

McGannon, K.R. and Schinke, R.J., 2013. “My first choice is to work out at work; then I don’t feel bad about my kids”: A discursive psychological analysis of motherhood and physical activity participation. Psychology of sport and exercise, 14(2), pp.179-188.

Radcliffe, P. (2014) ‘Motherhood could make Jessica Ennis-Hill an even better athlete’ Available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/athletics/10565198/Motherhood-could-make-Jessica-Ennis-Hill-an-even-better-athlete.html

Weedon, C., 1997. Feminist practice & poststructuralist theory.

 

PyeongChang 2018: Speed, skill and risk….. The fearless are here!

By Candice Lingam-Willgoss

I love sport – playing it, watching it, writing about it. It is a massive part of my life and I feel lucky I get to work in a profession where I can immerse myself in it on a daily basis with likeminded people.  So when a major sporting event is around the corner I prepare to be glued to the TV.  For me the Winter Olympics has always carried that aura of uncertainty and excitement – watching the world’s best skiers, snowboarders, ice skaters and more battle it out, braving the elements and taking risks albeit calculated ones.  Plus, there are also four new disciplines being introduced to the games this year, big air within snowboarding, mixed team alpine skiing, mixed doubles curling, and mass start speed skating, meaning the 23rd Winter Olympics promises to be something special.  With a record 102 medals on offer over 15 different disciplines there is a real buzz that Team GB can make this their most successful games yet improving on the 4 medals picked up in Sochi.

Where is Pyeongchang?

Pyeongchang is located in the Taebaek Mountains of South Korea, approximately 180km east of the capital city Seoul. Pyeongchang will be the third Asian city to host the Winter Games; the first two were in Japan, at Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).  Events are taking place at two main locations Alpensia Resort and Gangneug Olympic park with several other standalone venues for the snow based sports. But who could make it to the podium?

Team GB

With their biggest squad to date of 59 athletes including defending Olympic Skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold, the prospect for Team GB is an exciting one.   The success at Sochi (2014) saw UK Sport double its investment in Olympic winter sports from £13.5m to £27.9m for the South Korea event (BBC Sport, 2018).  So will this funding increase have an impact?  No Briton has ever defended a Winter Olympic title but Yarnold is keen to achieve the double in an event which has seen significant dominance by British women since its inclusion at the games in 2002 (British women have medalled at all four games).  The biggest threat could well come from her team-mate Laura Deas who has produced the best results so far this season and is possibly a more realistic medal contender. Where Yarnold is driven to defend her title to gain the double, former OU student Elise Christie is going for a record breaking double of her own, the Short track speed skater is attempting this in the 500m, and her preferred 1000m event, as long as the South Korean’s don’t ruin the party!

Medals on snow have been somewhat lacking with Britain’s first coming at Sochi when Jenny Jones made history achieving GB’s first ever snow medal in snowboard slopestyle – however, a medal on skis remains elusive – the best chance of success here comes in the form of Freestyle skiers James Woods and Isabel Atkin who have a real chance of cementing their names in history.  But we mustn’t discount Slalom skier Dave Ryding; this will be his third Olympics and he is in competitive form with consistent top 10 finishes on the World Cup circuit this season following his World Cup medal in January 2017, will it be a case of third time lucky?

When it comes to team events in recent years Britain have had considerable success in Curling picking up medals in the men’s and women’s team events in Sochi and sitting 3rd on the all-time medals table. While not favourites by any stretch, the team has a positive blend of experience and newer talent which could result in a surprise medal.

Others to watch

Alpine skiing – 4 times Olympian Lindsey Vonn (USA) missed the 2014 games due to injury but she is back and in great shape going into the games.  Her team mate Mikaela Shiffrin, the youngest ever to win an Olympic gold medal in slalom is also in great form with some strong world cup performances at the end of 2017.

Snowboarding – Chloe Kim is another US athlete to watch – the first woman to land back to back 1080s in competition last year and sitting top of the world rankings, this is her first Olympics but she could produce something special if she can control her emotions on the day.

Bobsleigh – The Nigerian women’s bobsleigh team is made up of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, these three athletes decided to form the world’s first all-African bobsleigh team in 2015 and in doing so have already made history.

Biathlon – Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier ranked No. 1 in the world in 2017 looks set to shoot and ski her way to the top of the podium.

Ice Skating – King of the quads American Nathan Chen should be in Gold medal contention as the first person to complete five quads in a four and a half minute routine, wherever he finishes he is sure to have everyone’s eyes spinning with him!

The Games open on Friday 9th February so get ready to settle back and watch the excitement unfold in the 23rd Winter Olympics.

 

Reference

BBC Sport (2018) Winter Olympics: Team GB set best ever Pyeongchang medal target [online]. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/winter-sports/42618501 (Accessed 2nd February 2018)