Behind every athlete at Athens, there's a support team

VIS Sport Scientist and Shooting Australia Sports Medicine Coordinator at the time, Nick Sanders, was part of the support group which went to Athens with the Olympic Shooting team in 2004.

He recounts his experience of the Games from 'behind the scenes' for the Victorian Institute of Sport's Pinnacle Magazine in 2004.


As a member of the support team which went to Athens, I was staggered at the number of people who accompanied the Olympic team. For the shooting team alone, there were 21 athletes supported by seven officials, including a team leader, three coaches and one assistant coach, a masseur and a sport scientist. 

During the two weeks we spent at the village prior to the Games and the week of competition, the coaches were working almost around the clock, either in a coaching or counselling capacity. To give you an idea, it was so busy for shotgun coach Greg Chan, that right after Adam Vella's and Suzy Balogh's medal ceremony, he had five minutes to collect his thoughts before assisting with official practice session for the athletes competing the next day. Then at 6am the following day he was on a plane to Singapore to assist the national development squad! 

The masseur also had a busy schedule, which started at 7am in the morning when the athletes went to the range, and finished around midnight each night when they returned to the village. The team manager was responsible for press interviews, repairs to our air conditioning and additional flight changes. 

As well as the sport specific personnel there was a full range of additional services at the Australian Olympic Committee headquarters including physios, doctors, masseurs, a sports dietitian, people designated to assist with athlete liaison to discuss elite sport and performance at the highest level, activity co-ordinators (to arrange such things as our visit from Roy & HQ), security, uniform distribution, travel arrangements, media liaison, our daily newsletter and so on. 

With this in mind, it was fantastic to see that the support staff were acknowledged at the Melbourne and Sydney Welcome Home parades. Once the athletes were individually introduced and congratulated for their performances, a special mention was made of the support staff who helped the athletes along the way. These included family members, coaches, doctors, physios, sport scientists, masseurs, administrators, volunteers and staff from sports institutes. 

At the Sydney parade the banner that followed the last sport was adorned with 'Support Staff', and as we marched by, the crowds cheered loudly and enthusiastically.

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