20 March 2017
Wrexham AFC player's rhubarb juice research among highlights of university conference
THE impact of rhubarb juice on sporting performance was among the ground-breaking research at a university sports conference.
Wrexham Glyndwr University hosted the 14th annual Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Conference, celebrating British Science Week.
Pam Richards, an Associate Head and programme leader with the School of Social and Life Sciences, opened proceedings by congratulating those students who are due to graduate from the institution this year, as well as those who joined the University in September.
She said: “Many of you are starting your academic and career journey but I want to congratulate you all on what you’ve achieved so far. With the support of Wrexham Glyndwr, I’m sure you will all go on to develop your vision and ultimately achieve your goals.”
Dr Claire Taylor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, added: “Research, scholarship and academia is all about investigating, challenging and questioning things so my message to you all is get involved, ask questions and make the most of the day.”
The speakers were Dr Nefyn Williams, Director of R&D for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, who discussed physical activity and osteoarthritis, and Professor Craig Twist from the University of Chester, who debated whether research can help inform real-world practice in rugby.
Final year students gave presentations and workshops centred around their studies, which included the effect of rest periods when using post activation potentiation on the start times of elite swimmer; exploring the decision-making capabilities in experienced and novice football goalkeepers, and avoidance and approach behaviours in football penalty shootouts.
Among them was Wrexham FC player and student Liam Walsh (pictured), whose own research looked at the effects of rhubarb juice on agility, sprints and a 4km time trial.
Several of his Dragons’ teammates were subjects for testing, as a footballer will average around 8km of running during a match.
Using the University’s high-performance laboratory and Colliers’ Park training facility in Gresford, he concluded that a dose of the canned fruit liquid consumed 2.5 hours before playing football significantly improves performance.
Liam, from Swansea, joined Wrexham Glyndwr as part of the football academy in 2014 and thanked Sport and Exercise Sciences lecturers for giving him the vision to look at life after soccer.
The 20 year-old said: “As a youngster I played for Swindon Town and for Swansea – football is all I have ever known.
“I did well at both but when the opportunity came up to play for Wrexham AFC and study for a degree I couldn’t turn it down.
“It’s been a great experience both on and off the pitch; I made my debut for the first team last season and have enjoyed the course because I’ve always been used to a sports and exercise environment.”
He added: “I do want to continue in football - that’s always been my first port of call - but I was keen to keep the educational side going and it gives me another string to my bow.
“The course was tough at first as I came here from part-time college as a youth team player, but I quickly got used to it and would like to thank the lecturers and staff because I couldn’t have done it without them, balancing a degree and a career in football.
“The finishing line is in sight; I’ve been on loan for most of this season so it’s now about playing as many games as I can before looking ahead to the summer and seeing what the future brings. “
Watching on during the seminar was Wrexham AFC manager Dean Keates, who is studying Sports Coaching at the University.
“Hopefully the gaffer will get some canned rhubarb in for the players after this!” joked Liam.
“It was an interesting study and I look forward to looking even further into it and seeing what other improvements can be made to performance.”