A new sports science centre at the University of Stirling will prepare Scotland’s sporting talent to perform on the world stage.
The High Performance Sports Science and Sports Medicine Facility is a £1.1 million development funded jointly by Stirling, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, and sportscotland.
It will be used by students on the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and by athletes in the sportscotland institute of sport network. University Health and Exercise Science researchers and institute sports scientists will also benefit from the state-of-the-art facility.
Two main laboratories will enable biomechanical analysis and performance assessment of athletes, while there are additional physiotherapy treatment areas, a Pilates reformer and consultancy rooms for doctors and nutritionists.
BBC Scotland presenter and University alumna Rhona McLeod officially opened the facility before invited guests watched scholarship footballer Jack Nixon and triathletes Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon showcase the facilities’ potential.
The two national triathletes ran on a high gradient, high velocity treadmill – the only one of its kind in the UK – which is also designed for cross country skiers and athletes in wheelchairs. It can be connected to a GPS system allowing physiologists to programme courses and routes for the treadmill to replicate.
Stirling Mathematics student Austin, 18, has represented Great Britain at the European and World Junior Triathlon Championships.
He said: “The facilities on the Stirling campus are already fantastic for triathlon training and the new sports science facility will enable us to gauge exactly how this training is improving our performance levels. I am aiming to be selected for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and I’m delighted to be able to stay in Scotland to work towards my dream.”
Stirling was designated Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence by the Scottish Government in 2008 and alongside its own scholarship programme, manages national sports scholarship programme Winning Students, which provides funding and academic flexibility to gifted student athletes across Scotland.
Six current and former Winning Students-supported athletes have already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, joining Stirling graduate badminton player Susan Egelstaff and Irish triathlete Gavin Noble in London.
As well as supporting elite athletes, the new facility will be available to sports clubs and to national governing bodies, while the physiotherapy service will be open to the local community.
Louise Martin, Chair of sportscotland and Honorary Graduate of the University of Stirling, said: “I'm delighted that sportscotland and the University of Stirling have collaborated on this exciting project. This new £1.1 million jointly funded facility will bring real benefits to the local community and high performance athletes. The new performance assessment laboratory, biomechanics analysis centre, and sports medicine facilities will foster even closer links between sport scientists at the sportscotland institute of sport and researchers at the university."
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “The University of Stirling is proud to be Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and this stunning new sports science facility underlines our determination to contribute to a successful sporting future for Scotland. This joint investment will benefit the local community, strengthen the established partnership with sportscotland and facilitate communication and collaboration between our own health researchers and scientists in the sportscotland institute of sport.”
The International Sports Scholarship Programme supports students in five core sports: Football, Golf, Swimming, Tennis and Triathlon. Established in 1981, its alumni include double Olympic swimmer Todd Cooper and 2009 Women’s British Open Golf Champion Catriona Matthew.
Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon are part of triathlonscotland’s performance programme, while Emily Thomson trains at the Scottish FA National Women’s Football Performance Centre and is a senior international. Jack Nixon is a defender with Stirling University FC who are the current East of Scotland Premier Division Champions.
Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence The University of Stirling is rated first in Scotland for sports research (most recent Research Assessment Exercise) and first for our sports facilities and services (The Complete University Guide, 2012). We offer a wide range of flexible sport study options and manage one of the longest running International Sports Scholarship Programmes in the UK. Our scenic sports campus has attracted many sports organisations to base themselves here, each tapping into the sporting hub developed at the heart of Scotland.