Strength and conditioning interns train with Paralympic medallist Ola Abidogun

Sport science students, as part of their strength and conditioning internships, have finessed their coaching skills in the latest of a series of workshops working with elite athletes and experienced industry professionals.

LJMU master’s and undergraduate student interns recently spent a day with Paralympic and commonwealth medallist Ola Abidogun, who has gained his accolades in the 100m sprint. He is coached by LJMU’s Head of Capital Development, Graham Pilkington, who alongside his role at LJMU is a Northwest Performance Speed Coach, International Team Manager & England Athletics Northern Lead Coach for Speed.

The 25 students took part in both theory and practical sessions with Ola and Graham, covering fundamental aspects of linear speed development, how that relates to coaching and training and what to look for when coaching to develop their coaching eye.

Internships for sport science students

This activity is part of a successful internship scheme which gives students the opportunity to undertake weekly workshops and extra learning, either as their placement at undergraduate level or as an additional activity at postgraduate level.

Conor Heeney, Performance Sport Science Co-ordinator at theSchool of Sport and Exercise Sciences, and in charge of the strength and conditioning internships, said: “The internships allow students to have a comprehensive theoretical and applied strength and conditioning (S&C) experience which aids their progression from an employability perspective, but also supports the delivery of key sports science provision at the university.

“We cover all fundamental S&C topics across the 24-week curriculum to upskill the students, and we even bring in previous interns who are now practitioners working in elite sport to provide real world examples of the content we teach in practice.

“I took part in the same internship programme back in 2016 to 2018 when it was run by my colleague Dr Carl Langan-Evans and was essential for my development. There are now previous S&C internship alumni working across all levels of elite sport from EIS, Premier League, WSL, Rugby Super League and a whole host of other international sports.”

Students on the internship programme support the universities sports teams in their British University and Colleges Sport Tournaments (BUCS) and with the delivery of LJMU’s Sport Scholarship Scheme.

Dedicated and committed students

Graham, who has been involved in coaching for 28 years and disability coaching for nearly 20 years, said: “It was really good to have an opportunity to work with some obviously really committed students and to hopefully provide them with some insight into the development of speed from a coach’s perspective.

“I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best national and international speed coaches over the years. To have the chance to pass some of the theory and practice on to a group of students, who will hopefully have a positive impact across both team and individual events in the future, was really enjoyable.”

Ola added: “Having been an international athlete for over 15 years it has been fantastic working with the strength and conditioning department for the last 6 months to see the quality and scope of the teaching at LJMU and the attention to detail from the staff, with their sheer breadth of knowledge and passion for learning new facts and acquiring new knowledge.

“It was inspirational to see the dedication of the students as aspiring coaches, with their intricate and detailed questions about para-sport which is a rapidly growing sporting industry. Their enthusiasm to broaden their knowledge and scope of individual experiences was not only a testimony to the level of teaching but also to the commitment of the students to their futures.”

Conor also supports Ola with his strength and conditioning expertise, alongside Graham’s speed work, and this year’s aim is to hunt further medals at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris taking place in July.


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