The Role of Science in Sport Performance

Dr Brian Carson, University of Limerick, Rena Buckley and Bernard Dunne

UL hosted a discussion on The Role of Science in Modern Day Sport Performance with Rena Buckley, GAA's most decorated player with 11 Senior All Ireland Football Medals and 7 Senior All Ireland Camogie medals and retired boxer, Bernard Dunne, High Performance Director for Irish Boxing with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association.

The event was organised by Dr Brian Carson from Physical Education and Sport Sciences as part of SFI’s Science Week Festival. The audience were treated to presentations and a panel discussion with two of Ireland’s sporting greats, including former World Boxing Champion Bernard Dunne and the GAA’s most decorated player of all time, Rena Buckley of Cork. Both shared their personal experiences of “The role of Science in Modern Day Sport Performance”.

Bernard told the story of how he embraced sport science, particularly physiological support, strength & conditioning and nutrition, following the devastating loss of his European title to Kiko Martinez in 36 seconds. He credited that fight and adopting an approach informed by science to his subsequent rise and the winning of his world title against Ricardo Cordoba in 2009.

Rena outlined the role of lifestyle monitoring, physiological measurement and personalised strength & conditioning to the balancing and longevity of her dual career which has resulted in the winning of 18 All Ireland medals (11 Football, 7 Camogie) and counting. 

In a spearate event, 60 teenagers attended 4 workshops on the theme of “The Science behind a successful athlete”. The students (potential future sport scientists!) learned through interactive workshops “The Physiology of an elite cyclist” (Lead: Dr Brian Carson), “The athlete brain” (Lead: Dr Mark Campbell), “Development of athletic power” (Lead: Dr Tom Comyns) and “Skill Transfer: Fom coach to athlete” (Lead: Dr Phil Kearney) and got a taste of what science tells us about elite athletes. This event was supported by several enthusiastic Sport and Exercise Science first year volunteers, passing on their passion for sport science.