24 January 2008
In a joint initiative to improve the level of international performances the Great Britain and Swedish National Race Walking Squads joined forces for a squad camp staged at Leeds Metropolitan University. The squads benefited from being able to train together as well as discuss training and coaching methods. Both squads were involved in sessions on strength and conditioning. Members of both squads hope the camp will assist in their preparations for the forthcoming IAAF World Cup of Race Walking in Cheboksary in Russia in may and the Olympic Games in Beijing.
The joint initiative was coordinated by Dr Ian Richards as Senior Lecture in the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education at Leeds Met and was made possible by the support of Malcolm Brown the Director of Sport at the University.
The Swedish squad also benefited from being able to tap into the expertise of Brian Hanley a Lecturer in Biomechanics. Brian is already working with both the Great Britain and Irish National Squads. Utilising the specialist equipment in the Carnegie Research Institute enables a number of tests to be conducted using force plates built into a treadmill, high speed cameras and EMG recorders. This provides walkers with a full analysis of technique and the movement of their joints and muscles. Both squads also benefited from individual feedback from Brian Hanley on a study undertaken at the 2007 European Cup Race Walking in Leamington Spa which involved capturing all the competitors at various points during the 5 races. This is the biggest and most comprehensive study of the biomechanics of race walking at a major event ever undertaken.
The athletes and coaches from both Sweden and Great Britain enjoyed the experiences of working together and will benefit significantly from the feedback from the biomechanical analysis. Both parties are keen to develop this partnership further as they prepare for Cheboksary and Beijing and in the long term to use the expertise and support of Leeds Met to assist British and Swedish race walkers develop into medal prospects for 2012.