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A winning boost from the Singapore Sports Institute

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Singapore Sports Institute WorkshopDr Kirsty Fairbairn (left) and Ms Cheryl Teo conducts the briefing on sports nutrition at the Sinapore Sports Institute workshop for athletes who are representing Singapore in the upcoming 8th ASEAN Para Games.

With the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) only a few months away, the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) has stepped up to provide more support for the country’s para athletes via a day-long nutrition and sports psychology workshop.

According to SSI chief Bob Gambardella, such workshops are only the first of many APG initiatives in the pipeline.

“This is just the beginning of a long legacy. We are reaching out to the para athlete community. Even though the APG is happening in December, we are already looking at what we can do for them after the Games,” he said.

Bob Gambardella_ Chief, Singapore Sports InstituteBob Gambardella, Chief of the Singapore Sports Institute.

The workshop, which took place on Sunday, 20 Sep 2015, was centred on helping para athletes develop proper nutrition habits and a winning mentality, as well as to educate the athletes’ support group on how to assist them in achieving excellence. 

A session on nutrition, led by Senior Sports Dietician Kirsty Fairbairn, touched on nutrition during competition and types of recovery foods. During the presentation, Fairbairn explained the basics of maintaining a healthy diet and reinforced the importance of nutrition, which was an area she believed had been severely underestimated by many athletes.

“I want them to have a very clear idea on how and why they want to eat well - how they recover from competitions, what foods to consume and why they are consuming those nutrients - so they understand what a good diet is doing for their performance. If they don’t understand why they are doing it, they don’t get the self-belief that comes from good nutrition habits,” explains Fairbairn.

Singapore Sports Institute Workshop for Para AthletesAthletes sampling food during the nutrition workshop.

“Every athlete wants to get the best out of their body when they can. Nutrition is fundamental to achieving that and the same applies to non-athletes. You need to nourish your body appropriately, so it functions at its own top level, wherever that top level is.”

Meanwhile, Edgar Tham, who is SSI’s Sports Psychology Consultant, addressed the importance of having a strong mind-set during competitions and training. Citing his experience from working with various athletes, Tham encouraged the group to make use of what they had learned during the session to boost their mental skills.

Tham’s colleague, Associate Sports Psychologist Eesha Sha catered her session to the athlete support group, which consisted of roles ranging from caregivers to officials and coaches. Throughout her session, members of the support group learned how to put together conducive training environments for the athletes.

Eesha Shah, Sports Psychologist at the Singapore Sports Institute

Besides this, Shah also mentioned how the APG had given the SSI a chance to build a deeper relationship with the local para sports community.

“The APG [has been] a catalyst to help us look into the para sports scene, for us to give the athletes more holistic support, and also provide them skills that will benefit them in their personal development, which will then translate into [their] athletic performance over time. [This will] hopefully inspire them to stay in the sport and aspire [to something] greater,” says Shah.

Certain areas within the SSI compound have already been converted into training areas for Singapore’s Para Games athletes, including the biomechanics lab utilised by the para table tennis team. These kinds of set-ups have stemmed from the hope of providing the country’s representatives with consistent access to the SSI team and the very best in sports science. 

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