Seb Coe pictured with UL President Professor Kerstin Mey
Lord Sebastian Coe pictured with UL President Professor Kerstin Mey at the launch of the new Sport and Human Performance research centre Pictures: Sean Curtin/True Media
Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Lord Sebastian Coe has officially launched the new Sport and Human Performance research centre at University of Limerick.

The two-time gold medal Olympian and President of World Athletics visited the stunning UL campus this Wednesday to launch the new centre, which seeks to advance interdisciplinary research in sport and other domains of human performance.

While in UL, Lord Coe visited the centre and met with staff, students and athletes, before later taking part in a public lecture.

He said: “Investing in sport does not just benefit sport as we can see by the work taking place in this research centre at University of Limerick. It is an investment in health, in education, in community care, in technology and science and in social integration. There has never been a time where sport and its associated links into health and fitness, both physical and mental, has been more important.  

“The Covid-19 pandemic caused huge turmoil around the world which will still take years to properly understand and unravel. Sport, with all its mutations, is a strong foundation to rebuild what has been lost or damaged. It has been both an education and a privilege to be invited to launch this facility today,” Lord Coe added.

During his career as an athlete, Lord Coe established his reputation as one of the pre-eminent middle-distance runners of all time. His achievements included nine outdoor and three indoor world records and two Olympic gold medals. 

Since retiring as an athlete, he has demonstrated impressive leadership across a range of sporting roles, including chair of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and is now serving his second term as President of World Athletics. This wealth of experience made him the ideal candidate to launch the Sport and Human Performance Research Centre (SHPRC).

Professor Giles Warrington, co-director of the SHPRC, said: “We are delighted to welcome Lord Sebastian Coe to University of Limerick to launch the Sport and Human Performance Research Centre.

“It is a great honour and privilege that someone of Lord Coe’s global standing is here to join us in these celebrations and share his experiences of a lifetime in sport, not only as an iconic athlete, but also a great leader.”

The new Sport and Human Performance research centre focuses on five key themes: 

  • Esports Science:  Lead – Professor Mark Campbell

Deriving and evaluating key performance indicators in Esports is an industry collaboration project involving the development of IP to measure and ascertain skills and characteristics of expertise in gaming and Esports.

  • Rugby Science: Professor Ian Kenny and Dr Tom Comyns

The Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) Project is actively working with the Irish Rugby Football Union to enhance the health and welfare of Rugby Union players across the domestic game in Ireland via a range of research projects on injury epidemiology, concussion biomarkers, and referee development.

  • Athletics Science: Professor Drew Harrison

The Feasibility Analysis of Sprint Start Technologies (FASST) project seeks to develop new technologies for the optimal determination of response times and improve the detection of false starts in athletics competitions, while the The Development of Youth Track & Field Athletes Project is a multi-phase investigation of young athletes’ developmental experiences within track and field.

  • Weight Category Sport Science: Professor Giles Warrington

The Weight Category Sport Science theme develops high quality applied research on sports where body composition, nutrition and energy availability may play an important role in health, wellbeing, and performance.

  • Endurance Sports Science: Dr Frank Nugent

The Endurance Sports Science research theme aims to enhance the health, well-being, training practice and performance of endurance athletes and coaches in Ireland through multi-disciplinary research.

Members of the SHPRC come from multiple departments at University of Limerick, a range of other Irish Higher Education Institutions, and Irish Sporting Organizations – for example Sport Ireland, the Irish Institute of Sport and the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. In addition, several members are based at international Higher Education institutions such as the Centre for Human Performance Sciences, Stellenbosch, South Africa, the University of Bablo de Olavide, Spain and the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Professor Drew Harrison, Co-Director SHPRC, said: “The establishment of the Sport and Human Performance Research Centre as a priority research centre in UL recognises the multidisciplinary expertise and cutting-edge research taking place within University of Limerick in the field of sports performance.

“The research centre provides a natural home to advance research capacity and forge even stronger collaborative links and research opportunities amongst our members and national and international partners.”

As part of the launch event, Pierce O’Callaghan hosted Lord Coe at the annual Pat Duffy lecture this Wednesday evening. A former international athlete, Pierce is now the Head of Competition Management for World Athletics. Coach educator, mentor, and performance coach Dr Liam Moggan, a UL alumnus, was MC for the event.