An image from Loughborough's Peter Harrison Centre

Loughborough’s Peter Harrison Centre wishes ParalympicsGB athletes and staff good luck in Tokyo

Staff from Loughborough University’s Peter Harrison Centre (PHC) have sent their well wishes to ParalympicsGB athletes and staff in Tokyo.

Backroom staff have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure things can run as smoothly as possible, while the athletes have had to overcome the COVID restrictions and maintain their training as best as they could.

It’s been a difficult year for all given the uncertainty around the hosting of the Games, that said, the PHC are pleased to have contributed in a small way through continuing its research agenda with understanding Para sport performance, feeding into applied sports support (training and heat acclimation strategies) and now with current PHC members attending the Games. This also includes not only alumni of the PHC holding influential roles within Para sport but also attending the Tokyo Games.

Over the last few months, Mike Hutchinson, current Research Associate has been assisting ParalympicsGB with planning and delivering their Performance Services. This has been led by Tom Paulson a PHC alumni who currently holds a dual role with the English Institute of Sport (EIS) and ParalympicsGB.

Mike attended his first Games in London 2012, when he was an intern for the British Paralympic Association (BPA) so has some great experiences of working in this high-performance environment. Tom also provided physiological support to GB wheelchair rugby leading into Rio 2016 and was fortunate to obtain day passes into the Village. He too, goes into the Games with high-performance insights but makes a debut as a fully accredited staff member this time round as core staff.

Another PHC alumni John Lenton will also be in Tokyo as accredited staff with British Para-cycling, and Ben Stephenson who has been working with the EIS and GB Paratriathlon while still contributing to the research agenda of the PHC will attend his first Paralympics as an accredited staff member.

The PHC has a strong partnership with Jonathon Riall (Head Coach) and his team since they debuted at the Games in Rio 2016, with scientific studies being undertaken in 2012 onwards to understand the sporting demands (see link for ‘The True Partnership’ article written by Jonathon Riall).

The research and impact of Ben’s role can also be found via this link. Additionally, as part of his PhD studies, Tom O’Brien has been supporting GB wheelchair rugby (GBWR) with their sports science preparation, it’s a role that has been overseen by Vicky Tolfrey (Director of the PHC) for several Paralympic cycles now.

Tom has been part of the GBWR training bubble for the last few months and due to a last-minute staffing change will now be accompanying the team. This will provide a fantastic experience for Tom, but with his proactive nature, we know that he will be a team player in more ways than one.

We look forward to expanding our relationships with GBWR as Barry Mason (PHC alumni) now leads the Sports Medicine and Science strategy for Paris 2024. Finally, as part of the heat strategy guidance, Vicky and PHC team members have been undertaking research to support wheelchair tennis for several years and worked closely with Alex Cockram to implement these findings. 

As our list expands with new names, members of the PHC past and present have supported ParalympicsGB and National Governing Bodies in various roles over the years at the Games and Holding Camps. This list includes Vicky Tolfrey, Barry Mason, Christof Leicht, Jamie Barker and Terri Paulson. It truly shows the partnership we have within the BPA (ParalympicsGB) and Loughborough University (LU) where we now see Nik Diaper a former employee of BPA leading the LU Para sport strategy and attending the Games in Tokyo too (see the LU dedicated Paralympic website here).

Vicky had been invited by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to attend as a VIP, but sadly will be cheering from home due to the travel restrictions and the restrictions with guests. Hopefully, she will be able to attend in person in 2024!