Swansea supported secrets of Amy's success
Following Amy Williams' magnificent performance in the bob skeleton competition at the Vancouver Games, UK Sport and British Skeleton have revealed some of the secrets behind the win, the culmination of a four year innovation project designed to ensure British sliders were at the cutting edge of the sport which was supported by staff at Swansea University's Sport and Exercise Science Research Centre (SESRC).
An exceptionally talented and dedicated athlete like Amy combined with world class coaching, sports science and medical support are, of course, the key ingredients in any gold medal winning performance. But British Skeleton's Performance Director Andreas Schmid recognised that taking an innovative approach to training, preparation, kit and equipment could be the icing on the cake when attempting to take on and beat the world’s best winter sport nations.
Amy Williams, part of the British Skeleton bob sleigh team, won the women's skeleton title this year by a resounding 0.56 seconds, making her the first woman individual gold medalist for 58 years.
An area in which Amy excelled in was the sprint start, a crucial factor in bob skeleton performance. Her speed and consistency in the start were aided by novel training methods throughout the summer months which SESRC assisted with.
Dr Liam Kilduff, Lecturer at SESRC, whose research interests focus on athlete monitoring and preparation, worked alongside his colleagues, staff members Dan Cunningham and Nick Owen and Swansea undergraduate Charlie Finn with Amy and other members of the Skeleton Bob team over the summer looking at strategies to optimise their start performance.
Dr Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, said: "Our job is to seek out that extra tiny drop of performance from Britain’s best athletes as we aim to help them be among the best prepared, and most feared by their competitors when they reach the start line.
"We couldn’t do this without input from our partners in industry and academia who can apply their varied knowledge and expertise to the increasingly sophisticated world of high performance sport."
"As part of the support package we seek out groups of individuals who we feel can positively contribute to our overall aim. Dr Kilduff and his team have supported us specifically in aiding the skeleton athlete's physical preparation.
"Dr Kilduff and his team worked closely with members of British Skeleton and the English Institute for Sport, on a number of strategies looking at optimising their starts.
Dr Kilduff said: "Here at Swansea University we pride ourselves on completing research that has real practical application for elite athletes.
"Based on a number of our recent publications, UK Sport contacted us about getting involved with British Skeleton and working with key members from UK Sport and EIS performance teams to look at strategies to enhance performance over the initial push phase.
"Amy’s achievement is the overall outcome of a number of years of extremely hard work and dedication by Amy and the support staff at British Skeleton, and to have been involved in this process on whatever level has been a great honour and achievement for Swansea University."
SESRC has assisted many of today’s top sporting teams, including Swansea City Football Club, who last year, used the facilities and expertise at SESRC as part of their pre-season physiological screening tests; Ospreys, Scarletts, and Welsh Rugby Union, as well as British Swimming, and British Cycling.
For further information about Sports Science at Swansea University, visit: http://www.swan.ac.uk/sport/