Athletics: Rebuilding British Racewalking. Guest lecture Review

This morning I attended a guest lecture all about Racewalking with my friend Jamie. My knowledge on Racewalking was very minimal prior to the lecture, and it really has opened my eyes into the sport as a concept and the complexities and sacrifices that Olympic hopefuls have to face in order to reach the very top.

The lecture showed the underlined development of Tom Bosworth. A British record holder for Racewalking and Olympic Athlete, also a former Leeds Beckett student Tom has his sights set on achieving a medal by the next Olympic games. Tokyo 2020 has encouraged the project Tokyo 2.0, the task being to get on the Olympic medal board at the next Olympic games in Tokyo is looking very achievable with Tom’s outstanding notable efforts in recent years.

The Racewalking were keen to notify that they consider themselves to be of the High Performance category of Sport rather than Elite, this was hard to believe when I was informed of Tom’s wide and expansive team there to increase his performance from a number of angles. His team included:

  • Coaches
  • Support Coaches
  • Several Athletes for Training Purposes
  • Head of Endurance
  • Physiotherapists
  • Soft Tissue Therapist
  • Psychologists
  • Biomechanics
  • Nutritionist
  • Physiologist

Quite an expansive team for it not to be considered Elite!

We were also treated to the technical side of Racewalking with Brian Hanley. Brian looked into the Biomechanics of the sport and how each Athlete can improve their technique and overall ability with vigorous testing and data records. The analysis of performance was particularly interesting, with constant review of technique and the different aspects affecting it Tom has become the best Racewalker in the country.

Brian also included that it had helped that Athletes of different nationalities all over the world have used his technique analysis which has given greater knowledge of good performance in Racewalking. The areas of technique were:

  • Speed
  • Step Length
  • Cadence
  • Contact time

Moreover Brian stressed the importance of analysing Work Energy Patterns, this is the time and power of muscles used to walk. It is used and differed upon each Athlete helping them achieve their optimum performance.

We then heard the role of a Sports & Exercise Psychologist. The areas that they assist with are: Internal factors, Behaviours and Environment, as well as generally seeing how Tom is feeling about things. Conversation with Tom was said to create a ‘Mentoring Framework’ allowing him to effectively challenge perceptions and offer alternative perspectives to issues that may be conflicting his mind or performance.

Physiology was explained to be the makeup of a training programme and development. It is crucial before big races that Tom has the right balance between fitness and fatigue through Training as this statistically directly correlates to his performance output.

Tom’s team also really placed a lot of emphasis in Tom’s sleeping quality and pattern. They highlighted how good sleep quality is sleeping at a similar time over a number of nights and avoiding caffeine and electronic devices close to bedtime as both make the mind race at a time when it should be resting.

Nutrition of course is a massive part of race performance, eating the right foods that are palatable was said to hold a much higher relevance than supplements. Eating palletable foods of great variety is crucial to helping Tom grow and achieve the best results possible.

I’m not going to lie, approaching this lecture I was fearful of being bored but I really enjoyed it. It has opened up my eyes to a sport and the roles that so many people play in the background have so much importance to each Athlete’s performance. Without these people we wouldn’t have Olympic champions, Massive ratings from me.

The Racewalking coaches further identify that Athletes are not entitled to success, they have to work for it; or in this case walk for it.

Have a great day.







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