Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Australia, Why Bond

Many people have asked me this question, why Austrailia, why Bond Univeristy. I recently had to put it all into words for a fellowship application so here it is.

My study in Australia will give me the practical skills to provide the highest caliber of coaching to both elite athletes and the general public. The program at Bond University will allow me to study state of the art testing of elite athletes. I will learn how to manage and coordinate elite athletic programs. The program at Bond University is on the cutting edge of high performance science. While studying in Australia I will learn how to develop an athlete so that they are able to reach their potential in sport. There are many coaches that base their training methodology only on personal experience. This method usually works only for athletes that have a similar physiology as that of the coach. The opportunity to study and complete a program that teaches the skills necessary to provide the best coaching and guidance to athletes will be a great asset.

The field of exercise physiology encompasses a large variety of sub fields from cardiac rehab to sports performance. At the sports performance end of the spectrum this study is important because it will teach me how to safely train athletes to push the limits of the human body. In sport there is a rampant problem of doping. From baseball to cross country skiing there are many athletes endangering themselves by using banned and often illegal substances. The program at Bond University will not only teach me how to detect these issues but also provide athletes with a coach that will enable them to compete at a high level without doping. I believe that every coach that can create an athlete that is both free of drugs and successful may be able to persuade younger athletes that sport is truly about dedication and hard work not a quick fix.

Australia is renowned for their development of elite athletes. They have sport programs that are far superior to the rest of the world and it shows in how many Olympic medals they have won in respect to their country’s population. The country of Australia is 52nd in world population but ranks 11th in the total number of medals won in the history of the summer Olympics. Worldwide there are only a few other academic programs of this caliber that focus on elite athletes and their training and testing.

One of the reasons for Australia’s dominance in global sports competition is the use of state funding. Australia values sport as a part of their culture. They are willing to invest in it not only as individuals but as a country through state funded sports institutes. In the United States the funding for such things in minimal. Most of the money for exercise physiology research comes from pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers’ donations. This leads all the research towards cardiac rehabilitation and drugs or supplements.

I believe the greatest challenge facing America today is the obesity epidemic that is taking our country by storm. Approximately one third of Americans are obese. This number is ridiculous. A part of this problem stems from the sporting role models children have today. Many of these athletes, especially football and baseball players, are overweight. When an athlete like Lance Armstrong, Mia Ham or Michael Phelps has great international success they too can become the role models for Americans young and old. When Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles people noticed and began riding their bikes more. He made a great form of exercise much more mainstream. Lance Armstrong’s coach currently provides fitness programs for average citizens to get in shape or achieve a higher level of fitness. This would not have happened to such an extent if it had not been for Lance Armstrong’s success as an athlete and role model.

While I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to work with an athlete able to win the Tour de France, the same principle can be used on a local scale. If an athlete becomes successful it will inspire people in his or her region to be more active and seek help in improving their fitness. I have already taken steps to implement my strategy for creating a healthier America. I have founded a company that will bring elite level coaching to all athletes, both recreational and elite. This fall I have been putting together an elite team to spread this thrill of fitness and exercise. This is the first step. I then plan to set up a lab so that I will be able to test athletes and average citizens to monitor their fitness levels and improvement. The positive feedback these tests can provide is excellent motivation for someone trying to lose weight or get in better shape.

I hope to learn valuable testing and coaching skills to help curb the challenges that our country faces from the obesity epidemic. I believe the use of exercise as preventive medicine will prove to be extremely valuable in the years to come. It will not only decrease personal medical expenses but will also increase the quality of life in the United States.