Society Member Fiona Webster spent 10 days at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, working as a Volunteer therapist and she got in touch with the Society to share with us some of her fantastic experiences. She clearly had the time of her life and she has also sent us some wonderful photographs to prove it.
Fiona who is part of the Pulse Sports Therapy team was based in the state of the art Medical Centre in the athletes’ village. The Centre included on-site imaging (x-Ray, CT scan and MRI), a rehab room, electrotherapy, massage therapy, ice baths and a fully equipped gymnasium on-site.
The very high number of therapists available, as well as the number of rest days for athletes in between events, made it difficult for Fiona to establish any real continuity with the athletes but her role nevertheless still proved extremely rewarding. Speaking about the experience, Fiona said: “I enjoyed working with some of them on a few different occasions, taking part in their progress, supporting them with appropriate treatment and getting results. I got the sense that every athlete, no matter what the cultural background, really wanted to take onboard all the help they could get on their way to a possible gold medal!”
The Aberdeen based Sports Therapist clearly had the magic touch, as several of the athletes she worked with, won medals, including Kimberly Renicks who won the first Gold for Scotland in women’s Judo, Tom Reed who won Silver for England in Middle-weight Judo. The Malaysian Lawn Bowls pair, Fairul Izwan Abd Muin and Muhammad Hizlee Abdul Rais, lost out to in the final at Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls centre, but Fiona made sure that they had the best possible preparation for tackling this event.
Fiona also worked with Pakistan Flyweight Boxer Muhammad Waseem just before his final bout for the Gold medal. He had a suspected fracture to his thumb and severe pain in his shoulder but that did not stop him from boxing. On the day the gold medal was out of his reach but what an impressive attitude. Fiona said “He was determined to go ahead and fight and came back from SECC to show me his Silver medal. It was one of only four medals won by the Pakistan team; an amazing achievement.”
It wasn’t just the athletes who left an impression on Fiona. Her encounter with the Australian coach for power-lifting left her feeling motivated and yet humbled at the same time. She told us: “Scott Upston is possibly the strongest man I have ever met. He has a weight-lifting background and he looks after many of the para sport athletes. Hearing about the challenges his athletes face, physically and psychologically just to make it to training, has been very humbling and inspiring. “
On one particular shift, His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex, as the Vice Patron of the Commonwealth Games made a trip round to the medical centre and spoke to Fiona for a few minutes as she was working on one of the 200m athletes. “We included the athlete in the conversation, but I think he was rather bemused by it all and didn't seem fazed that he was being visited by Royalty! I was, on the other hand, very happy to speak to him and would have liked a photo, but didn't feel it was appropriate to ask!”
Fiona was lucky enough to obtain a ticket to watch the Athletics during an evening session when she was not working. While enjoying the spectacle, she was interested to see which, if any, athletes she saw in the stadium appeared in the clinic the next day. One such athlete was a 110m hurdler, who over-extended his knee at the start, was in severe pain with limited movement by the end of the race and much worse when she saw him the next day. Speaking about how she handled this situation Fiona said: “It was very advantageous to be able to watch the playback of the race together in the clinic, to see how it happened; a rare opportunity indeed. After three sessions, his mobility was 100% and very little discomfort. It was a great result for him and me.”
For Fiona the atmosphere throughout the entire games was exceptional. “Despite tremendous differences in funding and cultural backgrounds, everyone came together to celebrate sport and have a good time, while always keeping their focus on the top prize: a gold medal.”
The experience for Fiona will last long in her memory and be something of which she can be undeniably proud:
“It really was a great experience, not just with athletes, who were all interesting, but to meet many other talented therapists, each with something different to offer. There were Massage Practitioners, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Sport and Exercise Medicine Doctors, all with different experience and quite an interesting overlap in some cases. As a Sports Therapist it was great to be able to utilise the knowledge and experience I have with high level athletes on a grand scale, working alongside some like-minded therapists.”