Top End research to help our Olympic athletes 


New research from a four-year study investigating athletic performance in the tropics is set to prove invaluable to the Australian Olympic team as they prepare for the Beijing games.

Dr Matthew Brearley, performance enhancement services manager for the Northern Territory Institute of Sport, has just concluded one of the most comprehensive studies on athletes’ responses to high-intensity activity in tropical conditions and the development of pre-cooling procedures.

“By identifying the physiological and perceptual strain endured by athletes competing in hot conditions, and developing cooling strategies, this research sought to maximise athletic performance in the tropics,” Dr Brearley said.

The findings, contained in his recently completed PhD which was awarded by Charles Darwin University, demonstrated that athletes endured high levels of physiological and perceptual strain when competing in tropical conditions and that pre-cooling in water reduced subsequent strain and might enhance athletic performance.

“These studies were the first to utilise NASA-developed ingestible core temperature sensors to assess the responses of athletes competing in the tropics,” he said.

“The research outcomes are routinely utilised to enhance the performance of NT Institute of Sport and Australian elite athletes.

“With Darwin’s extreme conditions attracting some of the world’s finest athletes, research of this nature is considered invaluable.”

Dr Brearley travelled to Beijing in August 2007 to implement monitoring and cooling strategies with the Australian men's and women's hockey teams as a part of an Olympic test event. He continues to advise the Australian Olympic Committee regarding heat-related issues to maximise the performance of Australia’s Olympic athletes.