Behind the scenes, a specialist team of Loughborough sport scientists has been conducting pioneering research to further the understanding of the biomechanics and physiology of disabled athletes and identify the marginal gains that make the difference on the world stage.
Since 2005, the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (PHC) in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences has spearheaded research in disability sport that has seen it become a leader in the field.
Funded by the Peter Harrison Foundation, the Centre boasts a critical mass of specialist academics that is unmatched worldwide. The Centre’s strengths not only lie in its work with elite wheelchair athletes, but also in its research programme which spans the full spectrum from health and rehabilitation, and physical activity through to Paralympic sport.
The PHC is made up of a core group of researchers and postgraduate students working across three key strands – sport science, psycho- social health and well-being, and performance health – with colleagues from other UK universities and overseas academics contributing to the research programme and enhancing the Centre’s international reputation.
The Centre is working closely with both the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and English Institute of Sport (EIS) and members of the Centre are increasingly working with other organisations, such as ASPIRE, to further knowledge of disability sport, physical activity and the general health and well-being of people with a disability.
The list of sports they work with is on the increase too – wheelchair tennis, paratriathlon, sledge hockey, alpine skiing and goalball are just some of the sports the PHC has worked with in the last year, and new work is on the horizon with disability cricket.
Most recently, the Centre has signed an agreement with Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) and has appointed Research Associate Tom Paulson to work with the team as they aim for a podium spot at the Rio Paralympics.