Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) staff and alumni who are physiotherapy professionals, played leading roles in the just concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) selected a team of ten highly qualified and experienced physiotherapists in the field of sports and tasked them with the responsibility of enhancing the fitness levels of Kenyan Olympians and keeping them in peak conditions in readiness for their respective games. 7 out 10 the of the selected members were JKUAT staff and alumni.
The team was headed by Dr. Nassib Tawa, a senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of Physiotherapy at JKUAT. Dr. Tawa was named Kenya’s Chief Physiotherapist in the field of Sports and Orthopedics in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
JKUAT alumni Physiotherapists for Team Kenya were; Joseph Koli (Taekwondo), Sospeter Kinuthia (Boxing), Sara Karongo (Volleyball Women), Emilly Koskei, Peter Nduhiu and Japheth Kariakim (Athletics) and Teresia Ogumbo (Paralympics). The rest included Lamech Bogonko (Rugby Men), Ben Mahinda (Rugby Women) Jessica Shiraku (athletics).
Speaking after the games, Dr. Tawa underscored the significance of the role of physiotherapy in training sessions, on-camp treatment and recovery and rehabilitation protocols for athletes.
“The journey towards participation and success in major sporting events like the Olympics is always demanding because it involves high intensity and regular trainings. Whereas this is important for the preparation of the athletes towards high performance, on the flip side, it increases the levels of risk to injuries,” explained Dr. Tawa.
He added that physiotherapy is critical in providing evidence-based advice on safe participation in sport and exercise.
Apart from providing conditioning expertise to Team Kenya, the physiotherapists were also required to collect and analyze data of all Kenyan Olympians regarding their medical and fitness screening, physical and performance status as well as injury surveillance, treatment and rehabilitation protocols.
Dr. Tawa said the data analysis of an athlete is in line with the current global trends in the field of sports medicine and exercise science, further explaining “that the aim of data analysis is to develop a comprehensive reference data-set for individual Kenyan elite athletes, in order to guide athlete trainers and other support personnel on how best to implement high performance training”.
Kenya topped the African medal charts at Tokyo 2020, albeit with a reduced medal haul of four gold, four silver and two bronze compared to the six gold, six silver and two bronze the country minted at Rio 2016.