Tucked away in a quiet corner of Jordanstown there is a hive of activity ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, which start on July 23rd. The performance arm of Sport Northern Ireland, the Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) works together with athletes, coaches and sports to provide practical and crucial support.
The role of SINI is to prepare athletes to compete on a world stage and the “friendly games” in Glasgow 2014 will be for some athletes the biggest competition of their lives. The Northern Ireland squad are sending their biggest ever squad with 117 athletes competing in 14 sports across 11 days.
Over 30 dedicated support staff are quietly working away in the busy office, labs and gyms of the Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) getting local athletes ready for Glasgow, as well as other major competitions. SINI provides athletes with a number of support services including Sports Psychology, Performance Planning, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Medicine, including Physiotherapy, Performance Analysis, Physiology and Performance Nutrition.
For many sports including Boxing, Judo and Triathlon working with the SINI team is business as normal with SINI staff embedded into the sports wider support network over a long-term period.
Over the last four years, but in particular the 12 months leading up to the games, SINI has been part of the NI Netball support team with two members of staff embedded as part of the team management. SINI Performance Analyst Jonathan Bradley and Exercise Physiologist Damian Martin have been working closely with Head Coach Kate Carpenter to provide an integrated approach to support at events. As well Jonathan and Damian, the Strength and Conditioning Team in SINI have been training the squad twice a week and with Sports Medicine staff providing physiotherapy support.
Head Coach Kate Carpenter had this to say about the support,
“As a squad we have benefitted from the ongoing partnership with SINI, we are lucky to have the support of the team and know that our squad appreciate the lengths the SINI team have gone to help us improve. The integrated approach that the staff have has helped us to identify issues and provide solutions, which has been crucial in our preparation.”
Netball isn’t the only sport with a strong relationship with SINI, the Northern Ireland Boxing Squad have just finished an intensive training camp facilitated by SINI at the Jordanstown base, with top nations including Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland all taking part the camp was viewed as world class preparation for the eleven Northern Irish boxers with high hopes for Glasgow.
Ulster Boxing High Performance Coach John Conlan had this to say,
“The SINI hosted camp was crucial to our preparation for Glasgow; the squad worked very hard and we would like to thank Sports Institute Northern Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland as well as the other nations for supporting this camp.”
As well as the long-term preparation work that SINI undertakes with sports, a number of staff will travel to Glasgow as part of the core Northern Ireland team as well as some who will work with individual sports. Leading the Medical Services team for Team NI is Professor Phil Glasgow
“I am heading up the Medical Services team for the Northern Irish team, which involves preparing and managing all the medical services throughout the games period. I will be living in the athlete village and working for Team NI providing physiotherapy support to athletes across a range of sports. The role in a way reflects what I do at SINI on a daily basis and will involve working with a lot of athletes who I know well.”
Sport Northern Ireland CEO Antoinette McKeown is rightly proud of the support that SINI can offer to athletes,
“We are all immersed in a great Summer of Sport and the Commonwealth Games kicking off this month is a huge bonus. Sport NI is delighted to be working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council and Sports Governing Bodies to give all our athletes the best chance of success at the Glasgow games. We are proud that SINI’s expert staff allow us to support so many of Team NI both in their longer term preparation and also in Glasgow. Sport Northern Ireland would like to wish all the Team NI athletes the very best in Glasgow.”
SINI Staff involved in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Team
Professor Phil Glasgow – Head of Medical Services
Chris McNicholl – Physiotherapist
Des Jennings – Performance Lifestyle
Johnny Bradley – Performance Analyst
Support Staff to individual sports
Debbie Hanna – Triathlon
Martin Loughran – Triathlon
Jo Hopkins – Judo