Friday, 16 October 2015

Danielle battles back to top level sport

UCLan SENS graduate Danielle Gibbons says she is proud of the comeback she has made to the FA Women's Super League after having a benign brain tumour removed.

The Liverpool Ladies FC goalkeeper missed five months of the season following surgery which left her deaf in one ear, but returned to play three matches before the end of the campaign. Danielle told BBC Sport she wasn't going to let anything stop her playing again.

She said: "There wasn't one point when I thought I wouldn't get back - if I couldn't have played for Liverpool again, then I was determined to play in the Olympics for the deaf team or something like that."

Gibbons was diagnosed with the non-cancerous tumour called acoustic neuroma in 2013 and initially kept it from her teammates as she did not want them to treat her any differently.

"I eventually told them at the beginning of this year and to be honest that was harder than telling my parents," said Danielle. "I didn't really expect them to be as upset as some of them were, which was nice in a way because it showed they cared."

Surgeons cut through her balance and hearing nerve to remove the tumour - a procedure which has left her completely deaf in her left ear, and the recovery was long and slow.

"At the beginning it was really basic, I just had to walk around the pitch turning cones over, which took me a really long time," she said. "It was really tedious and boring but you have to start with the basics. Even now I have to do a lot of standing on one leg with my eyes closed because my balance still isn't recovered."

After returning to training Danielle targeted getting back into the squad before the end of the season, but after regular keeper Libby Stout injured her shoulder she was called into action for Liverpool's final two league matches and their Champions League game at Brescia.

"I was incredibly nervous and physically shaking before the game, which has never happened before," she added. "But I was really excited to get playing again and proud to have overcome everything and then to get the chance to play in the Champions League was incredible."

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Warriors boosted by the appliance of science

Science is now a core element of elite level sport, helping athletes maximise their potential and perform to the very best of their abilities.

Wigan Warriors' march to the First Utility Super League Grand Final 2015 against Leeds Rhinos was backed by one of the sport's most innovative Sports Science departments, with their staff leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of success.

Mark Quinn, Warriors' Head of Sports Science and Analytics, is currently a PhD student at UCLan SENS and has recently completed extensive research into top class Rugby League.

The unique study looked at the physical demands of the World Club Challenge (WCC), comparing the differences between the Northern and Southern hemisphere competitions.

In recent years the Australian and New Zealand international teams have dominated their European rivals, while this season saw all three Super League teams lose to their NRL counterparts in the WCC.

By analysing player activity during the competition, the study found the WCC game produced more high speed sprints plus an increased number of accelerations and decelerations, and that when the values were analysed per minute of time the ball was in play these were accentuated, showing that the WCC game was played at a higher intensity than regular Super League games.

Whilst highlighting clear differences between the NRL and Super League competitions, the research also showed that finals are very physically demanding in comparison to regular season games - something the Warriors and Rhinos players showcased in abundance during this year's Grand Final.

The study, which will be Mark's first published paper, will appear in the December edition of the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport.

Friday, 2 October 2015

International invite for new team member

A new member of the UCLan SENS team has been invited to present at a prestigious international conference.

Dr Jan Mei Soon will travel to Italy during October to take part in The European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) second Scientific Conference entitled 'Shaping the Future of Food Safety, Together' (EFSAExpo2015).

Dr Soon recently joined UCLan as a lecturer in food safety management systems after graduating with her PhD from Coventry University.

She previously worked in the food industry in Malaysia, before continuing her postgraduate studies. Dr Soon also lectured at University Malaysia Kelantan and spearheaded the Food Security and Technology undergraduate programme.

Her work has been recognised by The United Kingdom Federation for Food Science and Technology (UKFFoST) and The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), who both awarded scholarships to take part in showpiece international food industry events.

Dr Soon is passionate about food borne diseases and outbreak investigations, food safety handling practices and training. She is also a supporter of the ethos of social responsibility, giving 10% of her time and money back to society.