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Loughborough researcher to analyse the health of Olympic and Paralympic athletes

A Loughborough University Postgraduate Researcher has embarked on a collaborative research project with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

Natalia Galan-Lopez, from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, will work alongside international colleagues to investigate optimum Olympic and Paralympic athlete health and performance.

The study will leverage existing data from athlete monitoring systems relative to sleep and general athlete health.

As well as identifying and exploring the risk-factors for athletes suffering from poor sleep, including those associated with gender, ethnicity and whether an individual is an Olympic or Paralympic athlete. The data will also explore the relationship between sleep and an athlete’s injury and illness history.

Finally, female athlete Sports Medicine priorities will be identified through the athlete voice and interventional studies explored to optimise female athlete health and performance.

Dr Lee Taylor and Dr William Adams from the USOPC will work alongside Natalia, with the researchers presenting evidence-informed recommendations to improve the sleep of those assessed as well as optimisation of para-athlete and female athletes/women’s health and performance.

“It is fantastic to be collaborating with the USOPC, an IOC research centre of excellence and the largest member of the Olympic and Paralympic movement,” Dr Taylor said.

“Their commitment to optimising athlete health and performance alongside their Sports Medicine research priorities, including specific focus on female and Paralympic athletes, are exciting to be involved with.

“It reflects well upon the sport and Sport Medicine focused world-leading research conducted within the School, that we are now collaborating with the USOPC.”

Natalia Galan-Lopezadded: “I am delighted to have started a fully funded PhD with the School and USOPC – I am genuinely thankful for this opportunity.

“Being passionate about female athlete health and performance, it is exciting to be pursuing a PhD in this space with elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Equally, I am very happy to be back at Loughborough after several years away. I look forward to working with my supervisors within and outside of the School, including those at the USOPC.”

William Adams, Associate Director, Sports Medicine Research, at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said:

“The USOPC is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Loughborough University by supporting Natalia as part of her PhD studies.

“Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences is world-renowned with its faculty producing impactful research in the field of sport and exercise science. This collaboration will expand the breadth of high-quality research conducted in alignment with the USOPC’s Department of Sports Medicine’s Research Agenda that is focused in preventing injuries and illnesses in sport.”

The research team will now commence data collection and analysis and can also be found on Twitter. Dr Lee Taylor (@DrLeeTaylor), Natalia Galan-Lopez (@NataliaGalan14), William Adams (@william_m_adams).

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/94

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2024, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.