[Left to right: Andrew Duff, Corey Peters and Pete Sanford)

Sector Spotlight

ACC provider on the ground in Sochi – a Paralympics experience

As the spotlight fell on some of the world’s elite athletes at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics Winter Games, ACC was helping to lead a charge back home to highlight the achievements of the Kiwi contingent.

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ACC partnered with AttitudeLive to bring New Zealand extensive, live, free coverage of the Games.

Among those in Sochi providing support to the Kiwi team was physiotherapist Andrew Duff, who is no stranger to working in a high-paced environment to help our top disabled athletes reach their dreams.

Fresh from the success of the Games, where Corey Peters achieved great heights in his new sport of alpine skiing – clinching a silver medal in the giant slalom – Andrew talks of his involvement with our team to Russia.

It’s all about preparation

With more than eight years’ experience working with Olympic athletes and travelling the many corners of the globe with the New Zealand Winter Performance Programme, Andrew was part of the seven-person support crew for our athletes.

His role was to help the athletes with physical fine-tuning on the snow, in the gym and on the treatment table. No two days were the same. The schedule changed every day, depending on snow conditions, access to training areas, the timing of events and the physical condition of the athletes.

Each of the three athletes in the New Zealand team has different impairments to contend with. Corey Peters has a spinal cord injury that has left him paralysed from the waist down. A Vancouver 2010 Paralympic gold medallist, alpine ski racer Adam Hall has spina bifida that affects the strength and control he has over his legs. Snowboarder Carl Murphy is a below-the-knee amputee.

For Andrew, the most challenging part of the job is adapting to each athlete’s unique needs, and dealing with the unexpected injuries that can happen at crucial times in competition, he says.

“Dealing with any events can at times put the therapist under the pump in regard to key decisions affecting participation, the dreams of the individual and the ultimate outcome.

“I enjoy the challenges of the high-performance environment and find them stimulating and rewarding to address, adapt to and overcome in conjunction with the athletes and support team.”

He says working with athletes in the Paralympic team is fantastically rewarding, because they are hungry for success and put in the hard yards on and off the snow.

“They are great guys to spend time with. It’s always a pleasure to be involved with athletes and the management team, who have a passion that is so palpable.”

Golden moments

The Paralympic Games have provided Andrew with some golden moments.

“Working with Adam Hall when he won gold in 2010 was incredibly special and something I’ll always remember. When Corey Peters skied himself into contention for a silver medal on his very first run at Sochi, I felt enormous pride at being associated with New Zealand athletes who achieve such greatness through study, grit and determination,” he says.

Even with the high-intensity and challenging demands of being an on-site treatment provider, it was a moment early in his career that Andrew holds dear as a highlight so far.

“From all my experiences, one of the most memorable career highlights was helping a lady who had had a stroke to learn to walk again as a fourth-year student in Wellington.

“Words can’t explain just quite how incredible it felt to witness the amazing effect that physiotherapy can have in helping someone regain their independence and mobility.”

ACC is a proud partner of disability website AttitudeLive and of its Paralympic coverage. Visit AttitudeLive.

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June 2014 Newsletter

Published 06/06/2014

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