After starting his PhD in wheelchair sports, Rienk came into contact with Vicky and Barry during one of their visits to Prof. Thomas Janssen. Both working on the quantification of performance in wheelchair court sports, it was easy to find common grounds for cooperation, especially since the approaches used supplemented each other nicely. Next to exchange of knowledge and expertise, the fist formal collaboration involved the evaluation of different game formats in wheelchair basketball. Barry and Mike setting up the indoor tracking system, while Rienk equipped the wheelchairs with inertial sensors and supported two of his students to gather video footage for activity tagging. All measurements took place at the legendary site of Stoke Mandeville, and resulted in two papers regarding the differences in game format, as well as a paper about the comparison between different methods of performance measurement.
A few years later, a second research project was started, investigating the differences in wheelchair mobility performance levels in wheelchair tennis, during the NEC masters at Loughborough. Again, both the indoor tracking system as well as the wheelchair bound sensors were used to analyse match performance of the top ranked tennis players in the world.
Rienk finished his PhD, titled:
During his PhD defense, Vicky was a member of the examination board, while Barry provided some moral support as one of Rienk’s paranymphs. After finishing his PhD, Rienk continued in wheelchair sports research, with his primary appointment at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Next to his position there, he is also connected to the Delft University of Technology, and for one day per week as embedded scientist wheelchair sports for the Dutch sports federation. The main research project he is involved in at the moment is “WheelPower”, seeking ways to optimize quantification of exerted power of wheelchair athletes. In WheelPower, the wheelchair ergometer measurements and field based sensor measurements are combined to get a full athlete performance profile. In this project there is a close collaboration with Dirk Jan Veeger, Luc vd Woude, Riemer Vegter and Sonja de Groot, also no strangers to the PHC.
Barry Mason and Rienk recently finished a review paper on wheelchair court sport measurement methods, and in the next few years several research opportunities are foreseen. One of them is to keep investigating wheelchair mobility performance in the different sports, to add knowledge support for coaches, but also to support govern bodies in their classification debates. Furthermore, there are ideas to optimize the methodology used and improve the performance feedback loop to athletes and coaches. Always with the primary focus to move Paralympic sports forward and to empower the athletes with easy to use and meaningful performance tools.