Physiotherapist Fiona Jacobs has recently returned from Bulgaria, where she supported Gymnastics Australia’s 5 Trampoline athletes competing at the World Cup in Varna.
We asked her to tell us a bit about the experience . . . .
How and when did you become involved with Gymnastics Australia?
I have been working with gymnastics sports for around 15 years, but this year is the first year I have been travelling with Australian squads. Earlier in the year I travelled with the MAG and WAG gymnasts to Stuttgart, and this trip was supporting our Trampoline athletes as they prepare for qualifying for the Olympics in Paris next year.
What did your role on the trip entail / what was the day-to-day like for you there?
We arrived in Varna a week before the competition, to allow our athletes to adjust to the time zone change, and to train in the arena where they would be competing. Each day I would bus in with the team to be at the arena as they trained, on standby to assist if needed. Importantly I was there during their ritual warm up of “volleyball tennis” to ensure there were enough numbers on each team!! After training we would return to our hotel where I would work with each of the athletes individually to optimise their recovery and help with any niggles as they prepared for competition. We all ate meals together at the hotel, and when we had a couple of mornings off training, we went to the beach in the town we were staying. It was a seasonal tourist resort town that had all closed down as we were there during off season – a unique experience!
What did you find most enjoyable about the trip?
I really enjoyed getting to know the athletes and coaches, as I have not worked with our trampoline team before. I also enjoyed seeing a new part of the world (Bulgaria), it was fascinating to be staying in an area that had effectively closed for the season. Walking through the area with all the shops boarded up felt like I was in a completely different world. I also thoroughly savoured running along the beach each morning and watching the sun rise over the black sea, which was magical every single day.
What do you find the most challenging?
This trip went very smoothly, so the challenges faced were really more amusing than difficult. When we arrived at the hotel we discovered the air conditioning for the entire place had been switched off as it was “October” – i.e. off season, and despite it being nearly 30degrees outside, they had no intention on turning it back on! Hot water also seemed to fall in this category, but was intermittent, and it became a daily competition to see who had managed to get a hot shower in.
How does this differ from other sports you are involved in / athletes you have worked with?
Trampolining, whilst understandably is under the banner of gymnastics sports, is very different to the artistic gymnastic streams. Each athlete in effect has 20 seconds to perform their 10 skills to the best of their ability in order to post their best score to make finals. One tiny error could mean your competition is over. The mental resilience therefore of these top athletes was very impressive.
How do you feel this experience will help you in treating your patients at Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic?
I love working athletes at the top of their game. There is always so much I can learn from them, that they have learned about their own performance, recovery and preparation optimisation. Working with a variety of elite gym sports athletes provides me a wide range of experience and skills, particularly in creative thinking, problem solving, and individual management plans, to help my patients across a large range of conditions get back to a wide spectrum of hobbies, sports and life’s activities. I really cherish the opportunities and knowledge that working in gymnastics has provided me.
For more information about Fiona Jacobs go to: https://www.alphingtonsportsmed.com.au/practitioners#fiona-jacobs
The FIG World Trampoline Championships are currently on in Birmingham (9-19 November) - Good luck team Australia!