The sports plus program began in September 2017 at Campus de Nations with the goal of supporting elite athletes, in both their sport and academic work. In this first trial year, nine athletes were taken on to identify the potential benefits a sports program could offer. These nine athletes comprise of three basketball players (Limbu Mwangala, Harrison Larwood, Liam Tissot), a cyclist (Henry Lawton), a skier (Osamu Okuma), a rock climber (Christopher Breckenridge), a football player (Amy Wouters), a track athlete (Héloïse Hughes) and a synchronised swimmer (Danielle Blumer).
The sports program aims to support athletes in both short and long term goals. This is achieved through a collaboration between the athletes’ personal trainers and the school’s coach, Kamel Boudjellaba, as well as doctors, nutritionists and a physio, from the La Tour Sports Medicine department , affiliated with Swiss Olympic Sports. Antoine Laffay, the founder and director of this project is at the center of these elements which contribute to each athlete’s development. Danielle explained, “I think that it is good start to helping me achieve my long-term goals, as it has made my short-term ones easier to target”. Harrison also commented, “the program has helped me a lot as I am already close to the goal I set in September which was to increase my endurance and now I can sustain the same effort for the majority of a basketball game”.
All the athletes have different goals, in different sports and compete at different levels, however Antoine Laffay has ensured that everyone has the means to succeed via the development of personalised training programs which are discussed and agreed upon by all involved. Henry explained how this worked, “ It’s efficient:often, my cycling and school coaches discuss where I am going, what my next goals are and how they can best prepare me for them, increasing the feeling of organisation, hence removing a great deal of stress”.
The program, however, needs to ensure that an athlete’s health is not at risk. Training programmes and small injuries are discussed with the physio and sports doctor. This medical support allows athletes quickly access medical professionals when needed. Osamu, having recently suffered a serious knee injury whilst racing, said, “I am very grateful to the program because it has allowed me to rapidly respond to my injury. With the lines of communication and medical structure in place I was able to see a renowned surgeon immediately. I have swiftly transitioned to a rehabilitation programme with regular physiotherapy appointments.”
Additionally, the sports program supports academic development. All athletes at certain times need to miss school due to competition or training. Consequently, athletes have to catch up with missed work and meet with Antoine once a month to discuss any academic issues. Since this balance can sometimes be difficult for students, the program can arrange tutoring sessions. This again relieves stress for the athletes, as they know they have support from their teachers and fellow students.
All athletes in the sports plus program have been improving physically and this in turn is leading to improved results. Limbu explained , “I can definitely feel the benefits of the structured training, especially during the last few minutes of a game when everyone is tired and I still have that little bit more energy.” Henry added, “The program helped me work towards my main goal of the velodrome season, to win the general classification at the international velodrome race, the ‘4 Jours de Geneve’. This year, my preparation gave me much more confidence which enabled me to dominate.”
After a very successful start to this project, which continues to develop, the program will become a permanent feature at Nations Campus. The programme looks forward to supporting elite athletes to help them achieve their goals.
For more information, contact Antoine.Laffay@ecolint.ch