The heat is 100 days to Tokyo 2020 for the UK Paralympians in more ways than one.
The preparation of ParalympicsGB for the 16th edition of the Summer Games will reach its decisive final phase with the opening ceremony on August 24th.
Tokyo will be a very different Paralympic event for all athletes for many reasons – including the heat and humidity that will see athletes compete in one of the hottest games ever.
Athletes like triathlete Claire Cashmore, who won medals as a swimmer at four Paralympic Games, therefore use a state-of-the-art heating chamber that simulates 30 degrees of heat and 70% humidity.
It’s fair to say that Cashmore and their support team from the English Institute of Sport (EIS), ParalympicsGB and British Triathlon will do their best to prepare you for the Games.
Working with experts such as EIS physiologist Ben Stephenson who works with British Triathlon, Cashmore is extremely confident in the system behind her.
“I don’t have a lot of experience of racing in high heat, I’ve only done it twice,” she said.
“It’s about not over-cooking and being prepared. You have to know how heavy you can be in these crazy environments. It’s pretty easy to go full throttle and blow up completely.”
“You have to be aware of the environment, how tough it is, and prepare for it as well as you can.
“We are really happy to have a forward-thinking team that is always thinking of new innovations and how we can be the best prepared team out there.
“It’s about what we can do to be on the starting line and know that we are best prepared and they are doing everything they can to support us in that regard.
“They take away a lot of stress and make sure that we can be there.”
Stephenson and a team of 23 in the EIS Physiology Department conduct regular “Beat the Heat” tolerance tests, which serve as a formal assessment of athletes’ adaptation to heat and humidity.
On the evening before the test, athletes swallow a gastrointestinal pill that physiologists can use to measure their temperature wirelessly.
They also measure skin temperature, heart rate, sweat rate, and exercise, which is a key indicator of potential performance.
Stephenson said, “In the triathlon we would expect temperatures of 30 degrees and the humidity will be high, that’s key. We could get up to 80% humidity.”
“We’re not just trying to increase athletes’ performance by a few percent because Paralympic athletes are at real health risks in the heat. We’re trying to get a comprehensive picture of how we can support the sport.” . “
The collaboration between the EIS and ParalympicsGB is led by the Head of Paralympic Performance Support Tom Paulson.
His job is to make sure these services – including jet lag prep and heat and humidity training – run smoothly in Tokyo, and Paulson is optimistic about ParalympicsGB’s prospects.
“It’s a really exciting time with 100 days left,” he said.
“All the work we’ve done has put us in a great position despite having an unprecedented year.
“Our athletes have still been able to maintain their health, maintain some form of training, and use the experiences they have had to prepare themselves as well as possible over the summer.”
ParalympicsGB invites you to join our team and get unique insights into athletes’ journeys to Tokyo 2020 to inspire and reunite the nation again: ParalympicsGB | Join our team – subscribe