Like the rest of the team physio Maryke Louw takes time to keep up to date with the latest developments in her field and has volunteered at a number of national and international sporting events, most recently as part of the medical team at both the World Para Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Championships in London. She gave us her impressions:
‘It was lovely to see some of the old faces that worked with me at the Games in Baku in 2015. The main medical room was situated on the training track where all the athletes warmed up before races. This meant that we had the likes of Bolt and Mo run right past our noses. It was amazing to see how much more agile and powerful the athletes appear in real life compared to on TV.
We were rotated between several venues. At the training track we provided a full service of injury diagnosis and treatment as well as ice baths and compression (those are the silly trousers that I’m wearing in the picture) to speed up recovery. We also worked in the hotels where the teams stayed where we mostly provided massage and strapping.
Being stationed in the stadium itself was very exciting, but you didn’t do nearly as much as in the other venues. I’m used to working pitch side at rugby where you run up immediately if someone is down. Here the athletes preferred to hobble off the track themselves and would only accept help once they were away from the public eye. My busiest night was that rainy Wednesday evening when all the 5000m heats took place. They were extremely aggressive races and several athletes sustained long cuts on their legs from the spikes of their fellow competitors.
Volunteering at these events are always great fun and I highly recommend it. They are always looking for loads of volunteers in different areas of work (including retired ones!). The events usually have a website where you can register you interest about eighteen months before the event.