Dr Bhavesh Kumar ISEH Consultant Physician in Sport & Exercise Medicine recently hosted ‘What makes a successful Olympic medical team?’ at the ISEH as Patron of the UCL Sports and Exercise Medicine section.

"Faced with a decision of whether to go mingle with the who’s who of elite sport at the Premiere of ‘I am Bolt’, a documentary following the rise of rise of the fastest and most successful sprinter of all time, or an arguably less glitzy albeit unique forum on ‘What makes a successful Olympic medical team?’, Olympic Gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu humbly chose the stripes of the ISEH over the red carpet of Leicester Square.

Her cherished memories studying Linguistics at UCL alongside successfully transitioning from a junior England Netball player to a disciplined elite athlete, and more recently her experiences attending the ISEH for medical care, proved a strong enough draw to come share her insights and reflections on the attributes of a good medical support team.  

The audience of UCL students, including medical undergraduates, postgraduate MSc students as well as those keen on undertaking the new iBSc program in Sports Medicine Exercise & Health, was captivated by Christine’s thoughts on an array of subjects, from the importance of a well-rounded athletic education in youth and avoiding early specialization, to her finals day preparation and running an instinctive 400m race.  

Christine looked back at a serious Rectus femoris muscle injury that caused her to miss an entire season as teaching her important lessons in avoiding jumps in training load or technique and listening to the doctor! Spending time with the medical team resulted in increasing trust and reliance on them to the point of incessantly asking for information and education on all matters medical and performance.  

Co-panelists and experienced Olympic clinicians Dr Mike Loosemore (CMO of GB Boxing) and Ed Mias (specialist physiotherapist to British Athletics) expressed the importance of non-hierarchical teamwork and clear lines of communication with the athlete and coach to provide best possible advice and care to athletes and avoid the possibility of mixed or confusing messages. They also highlighted the importance of knowing one’s limitations and boundaries of expertise, being resilient and remaining calm in the face of unpredictable or adverse events in order to keep the athletes as relaxed and focused as possible, as well as adapting to sometimes working outside of one’s comfort zone. There was an interesting discussion about how major Games time can tip the balance of risk and reward of elements of medical care to afford the athlete every opportunity to perform to the best of their ability.

We were left with some final top tips for budding Olympic clinicians, including knowing the athlete’s personality and preferences, gelling well with colleagues and athletes alike, and taking opportunities to volunteer at multisport events to gain the experience that may eventually lead to an Olympic or Paralympic Games!"