Professor Vicky Tolfrey


Pronouns: She/her
  • Professor of Applied Disability Sport
  • Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport

Vicky completed her first degree in Sport Science at Manchester Metropolitan University in 1993 for which she was awarded the Exercise and Sport Science Department prize for best all-round Sport Scientist. Following this, Vicky was appointed as the Project Assistant for the British Wheelchair Racing Association (BWRA) whilst completing a part-time PhD.

In 1999, she completed her PhD entitled 'Pushing economy and wheelchair propulsion technique of wheelchair racers'. After completion of the work with the BWRA, Vicky went on to work with the Great Britain Men's wheelchair basketball team for four years (1998-2002) and then embarked on academic career at the Manchester Metropolitan University (2002-2007) and moved to Loughborough University in 2007.

Vicky is a BASES Re-accredited and has provided applied sport science support to Paralympic athletes since 1994. Vicky attended the Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, and London 2012 Paralympic Games, and was involved in the Cyprus holding camp for Athens 2004 and the Far East holding camp for Beijing 2008. She led the applied sport science project for the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Association, overseeing the delivery of a programme of applied support leading to Rio 2016, and also worked with the GB paratriathlon squad. Vicky was involved in impactful work with these sports for Tokyo 2020 and is now involved with a number of Para sports-related projects for Paris 2024.

In 2005, Vicky received a BASES Award for Good Practice in Applied Sport Science and in 2011 was awarded a BASES Fellowship for her work in Disability Sport and mentorship of others in this area. Vicky served as a member of the International Paralympic Committee Sport Science and Medicine Group 2005-2010. In 2017, Vicky received the prestigious IPC Paralympic Scientific Award and was named one of Loughborough University's Inspirational Women in Sport. Vicky is editor of one of the few scientific international handbooks on sport physiology and biomechanics in adapted sports, ‘Wheelchair Sport’, published by Human Kinetics.

Vicky is the Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport which is based at Loughborough University.

Professor Vicky Tolfrey talks about her research

Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Professor Vicky Tolfrey, discusses her research which is focused around wheelchair athletes.

Vicky's research areas include:

  • Disability sport
  • Wheelchair propulsion kinematics
  • Elite sports performance physiology
  • Exercise testing and interpretation
  • Training and performance

Selected Recent Research Projects and Sources of Funding

  • £2,750,000 awarded by the The Peter Harrison Foundation for the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport. Principle Investigator.
  • Wheelchair Rugby Support leading to Paris 2024 - Research Associate Position (2022-24).
  • British Wheelchair Basketball – What it takes to ‘Win’ – PhD Studentship (2021-24).
  • UKSI matched funded PhD studentship – Wheelchair racing (2023-26).

PHC Team Awards

  • 2023: Multidisciplinary Association for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Professionals (MASCIP) conference. “Weight Management Interventions for people with Spinal Cord Injury: A systematic review and qualitative synthesis”, which was awarded the Penny Mullen prize for the best poster presentation. And “Evidence-based SCI exercise guidelines: a focus group study assessing perceptions of promotional materials.”  for best free communication.
  • 2023: Research paper of the year: Wheelchair rugby players maintain sprint performance but alter propulsion biomechanics after simulated match play was one of 4 that were highly commended in the 2023 awards. Paper of the Year award for the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
  • 2022: Vice Chancellor’s awards – Research and Innovation – for R&I that has delivered significant and sustained impact on society.

For projects, please visit the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport website.


Recent Invited Conference Keynote and Speaker Presentations

  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2023). Para athlete. Nutrition for Health and Performance. Plenary Symposium with Louise Burke and James Morton. International Sport and Exercise Nutrition Conference 2023. December. Manchester University
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2023). The Past, Present and Future of Paralympic Sports Science. Invited Keynote. BASES 2023 Annual Conference, Coventry University, November.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2023). Supporting the wheelchair athlete for the Paralympic Games: A multi-disciplinary perspective. Pittsburgh. Rory Cooper.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2023). The Science of Wheelchair Sports. Boston, USA. Cheri.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2023). Lessons learnt over 25 years of supporting Para athletes. UBC Internal School seminar. Feb.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2023). Supporting Para athletes across the exercise spectrum. UBC ICord lecture. Feb.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2022). Preparing wheelchair athletes for success at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Japan. Kyoten 10 years Seminar. Nov.


Featured publications

Latest 2023 published research: