Nova Scotia

2016 Rio Olympic Games athletes have Nova Scotia sport scientists behind them

There are 313 Canadian athletes competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and behind each athlete is a team of sport scientists — from doctors to physiotherapists, strength and conditioning specialists and nutritionists.

From collecting metrics to maintaining perspective, behind each athlete is a team of specialists

There are 313 Canadian athletes competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games that open next Friday and behind each athlete is a team of sport scientists — from doctors to physiotherapists, strength and conditioning specialists and nutritionists.  

Leo Thornley​

Leo Thornley, director of sports science at the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic, has never stood on an Olympic podium but Rio will be his second trip to the games. (CBC)

Every resource is used that might squeeze a little bit more out of an athlete to get them on the Olympic podium. Leo Thornley, director of sports science at the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic, will be tasked with measuring all the details that go into an athlete's day, from sleep to water intake, nutrition and training.

"My job at the Olympics is collecting the information that helps us understand how they performed, so if they have a medal, awesome; but what were the bits that contributed to that?" said Thornley.

"We collect so many metrics that probably the athletes aren't even aware of. So we are operating in the background to make sure what the metrics are saying is what we expect them to say."

Lori Dithurbide

Lori Dithurbide, a sports psychologist, speaking with Colleen Jones outside the Canada Games Centre. (CBC)

Lori Dithurbide, a sports psychologist who will be working with the Canadian Gymnastics team in Rio, has worked with Halifax gymnast and Olympian Ellie Black for years.

"Ellie is very good at maintaining perspective and we always focus on the process," Dithurbide said.

Maintaining perspective is hard to do amid the distractions that come with competing at the Olympics.

Dithurbide's job is to keep the athlete's mentally strong and confident. Also, because some of those distractions could be the worry of Zika virus or security concerns; she helps to keep those fears at bay.

"It's being open and talking about them. The Canadian Olympic Association has done a good job at making sure precautions are in place, so I find the athletes aren't thinking about it too much," Dithurbide said.

Darren Steeves

Darren Steeves is the strength and conditioning coach for the canoe and kayak team. (CBC)

Darren Steeves, a strength and conditioning coach with the Canadian Olympic Canoe Kayak team, has worked a long time with 200 metre sprint kayak medal threat Mark de Jonge.

"Strength and power is so important for the 200 metre kayak. So sure, we want to taper, but we are pushing right up to the event to sustain that strength and power," Steeves said.

He also works on making athletes resilient.

"Maintaining good resiliency is important and there are multiple factors that go into that and we want to keep people at a ten. So being able to bounce back and having a schedule helps drive resiliency."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

World champion curler Colleen Jones has been reporting with CBC News for nearly three decades. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleenjones.

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