Keeping Race Fit For British Sailing's First Rio Test

Posted 15th August 2014 by Paul Mullan, British Sailing's Head of Sports Science & Sports Medicine

This August marks not only two years to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but also sees the first official Test Event for any Olympic sport with sailing’s Aquece Rio International Regatta (2-9 August).

A squad of 30 British sailors – the maximum of two entries in each of the ten Olympic classes – will take to the waters of Guanabara Bay as part of the 324 sailor, 34 nation entry, as the host’s preparation and focus towards the Rio Games step up a gear in the wake of the FIFA World Cup.

The organisers will use the event to trial some of the workforce, equipment, race areas and systems ahead of the Olympic regatta in 2016. The British Sailing Team, along with their international rivals, will see the event as a vital opportunity to learn about the venue and weather conditions, and what the key ingredients will be towards medal success on Brazilian waters.

The team partnered with Healthspan Elite in their build up to the event to access nutritional supplements which will aid the sailors’ physical preparation and wellness as they prepare for competition at the South American venue.

The British Sailing Team’s Head of Sports Science and Medicine, Paul Mullan, explains the merits of this nutritional support.

“Due to the World Championships falling in just a few weeks’ time, our guys have come out to Rio in a higher state of training that we wouldn’t normally see running into a major event. As such it’s likely that their immune systems are going to be more suppressed. Some of the practices that we employ to help with that include nutritional supplementation for a minimum of two weeks leading into a period where we’re trying to sharpen immune systems.

“We’ve teamed up with Healthspan Elite and use their supplements to aid this – High Strength Probiotic, their Gold A-Z MultiVitamin and High Strength Omega 3 – all of them are batch tested, so they’re absolutely perfect for our guys.”

“This is one of many practices we employ with the aim of supporting the immune system. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections in the research trials. In our practical experience we feel that it helps to support immune function through maintaining good gut health particularly during periods of stress and vulnerability. The gut plays an important role in immune function so keeping it healthy can help to prevent you getting ill especially when faced with germs and bacteria you might experience in foreign countries that you wouldn’t normally experience in the UK.”

Mullan continued: “The MultiVitamin is something we always supplement during heavy training periods to ensure the body has everything it needs to repair and adapt. I particularly like the Healthspan Elite Gold A-Z MultiVitamin as it provides 100% of your recommended daily allowance, no more no less. A lot of off-the-shelf vitamins you can get super high dosages of certain vitamins which can actually have the reverse effects on immune function if used for too long a period.

“Omega 3 Fish oils have been shown to have so many different effects from promoting adaptation, preventing muscle breakdown, supporting cognitive function and supporting immune function, so it’s a great all round supplement to have.”

In spite of widespread media reports about poor water quality at the 2016 venue, Mullan insists that the team is not unduly concerned from a health perspective.

“I don’t think we are at a significantly greater risk of picking up illnesses out here in Rio. There’s a lot of hype about the water here – I can say we’ve never experienced anything from an illness perspective that you can put down to the water quality, and even someone told us what the water quality level was, we wouldn’t be doing anything different – we are already covering all bases, just as with every event we go to. There are times even in the UK that the water quality can be less than ideal in certain areas.“

“That’s something that’s beyond our control – what is in our control is how we go about preparing ourselves. The reality is that we don’t prepare the sailors any differently out here than we do in Europe or the UK. It’s about common sense, making sure that you’re not eating your food with dirty hands for example, but that’s the same wherever you are.”

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