Nino Severino: University of Suffolk can help athletes unlock their full potential
In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses the work being done at the University of Suffolk to support elite athletes - and his mission to help many more get the benefit of the superb facilities and experts there.
The last week has been very interesting as I have had a schedule of meeting athletes from a very wide range of sports.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in sports that attract very large amounts of money because they are heavily shown on TV and earn global audiences, sports such as tennis, football and golf.
The athletes in these sports are supported with huge amounts of resources, products, services, knowledge and expertise.
But it has become very clear to me that not all sports have the benefit of this type of world class support. I wanted to look at this, and see if there was an initiative we could kick start that would remedy this situation.
The last few weeks has seen me visiting the University of Suffolk, for one reason and another, and during one of my appointments there I bumped into an athlete called Jasmine Taylor.
Very interestingly, as well as being a world-class telemark skier, she is also a sports science student at the university. As you can imagine once we got chatting, it opened up a massive amount of conversation areas.
We decided to have a coffee in the lounge, and I’m really glad we did, because Jasmine is a typical example of many of the athletes we have in Ipswich and the surrounding areas – athletes who are at international, European and world level in their sport.
I did know of Jasmine because we have a mutual friend called Alasdair Jones, he looks after all Jasmine’s physiotherapy needs, and while Elena and I were travelling around the world competing he was a very important member of our support team as well.
We discussed the area of Alasdair’s physiotherapy support, and this led onto a really wide-ranging area of discussion. For me, as an elite coach, it was a privilege to chat all things sport with a world-class athlete, but what made the next few hours really special was the fact that Jasmine is an incredible woman, with huge amounts of energy, and a personality and character to match!
Listening to her talk about her sporting life, reminded me so much of my time with Elena, and what it takes to be a world class athlete.
I asked about her support team and she told me that she was extremely happy with the team around her. She then went on to tell me who they were – technical coach Sebastien Mansart, who is part of the Great Britain Telemark coaching team, the aforementioned Alasdair, Dan Donnelly, who takes care of all her strength and conditioning needs, and finally Manos Georgiadis, her psychologist.
I think most of the public are now aware that top flight athletes have this type of support team around them, but I’m not sure if its understood how important they are, and how all of them need to work together to achieve the world class performances delivered by the athletes.
One of my main focuses is to bring this outstanding community of athletes and experts together, and I’m very glad to say that the University of Suffolk has agreed to support me heavily in this quest.
The university houses a multi-million-pound performance unit that would comfortably sit in any sport’s national training centre, and it can boast a team of experts that has the capability of supporting any athlete at any level.
We just need to ensure that the public are very much aware of this elite beating heart which sits on the marina waterfront, and the incredible work it is delivering in terms of educating talented sports people like Jasmine, but much more than this, giving her the world class support she deserves.
My life seems to be crossing an awful lot with Doctor Gavin Devereux, who heads up the Sports Science department at the university, and it did not surprise me at all to hear from Jasmine that he also has offered her incredible support.
The other exciting aspect of this support is the fact that Jasmine can be a student of sports science, based on a scholarship arrangement offered by Sarah Dooley at the university, which clearly shows to me that education and world class athlete support can be achieved in our great town of Ipswich.
I think it’s safe to say, that many more of our local athletes need the opportunity to also tap into this resource, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that the university is supporting this vision – a vision that will see any athlete who wants world class support offered it on their door step, here in Ipswich.
If there are any local athletes or coaches who feel they could benefit from this, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.