My Commonwealth Games Physio experience…
When I first saw the advertisement for Physio volunteers for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, on the APA website, I instantly jumped at the chance and applied without a second thought! I have always absolutely loved working as a physio in sport and knew this would be an unbelievable experience to work at an international level, with some of the best athletes, and medical staff, in the world.
I was informed I’d been accepted in July 2017, and I was very fortunate to be one of the few chosen from the thousands of physio applications. I had 9 months to complete all of the role specific and venue specific training to prepare myself as best as possible. I was assigned to the Carrara Athletics Stadium. I also quickly got on to booking accommodation for myself and my little family – my partner and my 2 year old son, Jacob. I knew the Gold Coast would be a fabulous location for a family holiday and they absolutely loved it too.
When the time finally came to head off to the Games, we landed on the day of the Opening Ceremony, the 4th of April 2018. There was so much excitement in the air and such a lovely, friendly atmosphere. We stayed in the area of Broadbeach, which was a quick walk to the beach, shops, free family activities, and to free public transport (buses and the tram) to get to all of the events. The Gold Coast did a fantastic job of organising everything.
We jumped at the chance to see some events, including Australia vs Canada in the hockey, Australia vs Jamaica in the netball, an Athletics session, and later on the Gold Medal Basketball game. We also did a fair bit of sightseeing, went out to the rainforests for some hiking, as well as visited nature parks and theme parks. It was fantastic to get free entry to theme parks as a thank you for being a volunteer.
Then it was time to get to work! I picked up my volunteer uniform and arrived at Carrara Athletics Stadium. I was mainly stationed at the ‘warm up track’, just next to the main Athletics field, where all of the Athletes from all countries went before and after their events to train, warm up and cool down. We had a fantastic team of medical staff in the Athlete Medical Facility, with each 10 hour shift consisting of 2 doctors (either sports or emergency doctors) at least 4 physio’s, 2 remedial massage therapists, 2 nurses, and sports trainers. We worked well as a team to assess and triage the athletes as they entered the facility to determine what treatment they required.
As a physio I was very busy providing more specific injury related treatment, for either long standing niggles or for new injuries. I worked with a lot of athletes from African and Carribean countries who didn’t have a medical team with them at all, or hadn’t been able to access treatment leading up to the Games.
There was also a lot of pre and post-event massage and taping provided.
I was also given the opportunity to go work on the Field of Play, inside the Carrara Athletics Stadium where the events were being held. I was stationed close by to the finish line of the sprint events and was very fortunate to be so close to the action! I was there with a wheelchair, stretcher and medical kit ready to go if needed. I was also working with a doctor, who was an orthopaedic surgeon.
On a few occasions we did get called out with the wheelchair to assist athletes who had collapsed after their sprint and had torn a hamstring or sprained a joint. A lot of the time we were required to wheelchair the injured athlete off to the Stadium Athlete Medical Facility, where I could further assess them and provide treatment. I would then arrange for their transport (ambulance if required) and referral for further treatment to the Polyclinic at the Athlete Village, or to hospital if required. Working inside the stadium on the Field of Play was by far my favourite experience of the whole trip!
Overall I had an absolutely amazing time, I learnt a lot from the incredible medical team I was working with, and was very proud to provide Physiotherapy treatment to athletes who had been training for years to give it their all at this event to achieve their best. A special big congratulations to two athletes that I treated who went on to win a silver medal and a gold medal. It was an unforgettable experience.
I would highly recommend to everyone, if you ever get the chance to go to the Commonwealth Games (or any international sporting competition) as a volunteer or even as a spectator, jump at the chance and go for it!