What a year it has been.

Day 2 of 2021, I think we are all in the same place, thinking about the incredible challenges of 2020 and hoping that 2021 will bring back some sort of normality.

For me it has been quite an incredible year. I changed jobs the 1st of March of 2020 and in less than 10 days we started working from home. So, new team, new objectives, new job and trying to do it all from home. Definitively something nobody can teach you in any management course/degree. So there was a lot of learning happening ‘remotely’ and many difficult and challenging decisions to take in a short period of time. Not the way you dream of starting a new role, but you can only play with the cards you get given not with the ones you would like to have. Despite all this, work has been rewarding. I am in a great environment surrounded by very clever and passionate people and I have a great team, so despite all the difficulties, I am confident a lot can be achieved and I am definitively looking forward to a great 2021.

Research activities have continued, and most probably working from home has accelerated the production of manuscripts. The team in Aspetar managed to publish more than 100 papers in peer reviewed journals with some incredible resources for sports science and medicine practitioners. If you want to find out more, just go on PubMed on this link and you will see listed most Aspetar’s papers.

On a personal note, I published a number of papers from projects in few areas:

Injury and youth athletes

Martinez-Silvan, D., Wik, E. H., Alonso, J. M., Jeanguyot, E., Salcinovic, B., Johnson, A., & Cardinale, M. (2020). Injury characteristics in male youth athletics: a five-season prospective study in a full-time sports academy. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-102373

Wik, E. H., Martinez-Silvan, D., Farooq, A., Cardinale, M., Johnson, A., & Bahr, R. (2020). Skeletal maturation and growth rates are related to bone and growth plate injuries in adolescent athletics. SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS, 30 (5), 894-903. doi:10.1111/sms.13635

Career Progressions and Talent Identification in Athletics

Boccia, G., Cardinale, M., & Brustio, P. R. (2020). Performance progression of elite jumpers: Early performances do not predict later success. SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS. doi:10.1111/sms.13819

Boccia, G., Cardinale, M., & Brustio, P. R. (2020). World Class’ sprinters careers. Early Success does not guarantee success at adult age. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2020-0090

New Technologies/Training Monitoring

Jones, T. W., Shillabeer, B. C., & Cardinale, M. (2020). Skin Temperature, Training Load, and Subjective Muscle Soreness in Junior Endurance Athletes: A Case Study. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 1-4. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2019-0748

Di Giminiani, R., Cardinale, M., Ferrari, M., & Quaresima, V. (2020). Validation of fabric-based thigh-wearable EMG sensors and oximetry for monitoring quadricep activity during strength and endurance exercises. Sensors, 20 (17), 1-13. doi:10.3390/s20174664 (this work was supported by an ESA grant with Ohmatex).

A Systematic Review (part of Alex Natera’s PhD).

The Effect of High Volume Power Training on Repeated High-Intensity Performance and the Assessment of Repeat Power Ability: A Systematic Review. AO Natera, M Cardinale, JWL Keogh – Sports Medicine, 2020

These studies are all the results of ongoing collaborations and projects which started years ago and will still produce meaningful papers once analyses and acceptances will be completed. So, there is more to come, as always, stay tuned.

I managed also to complete a book chapter for this exciting book which was just announced edited by Dr. Lorena Torres and Dr Duncan French and published by Human Kinetics (link to details here).

NSCA's Essentials of Sport Science

It is always a privilege to be asked to contribute to books like this one, and I am grateful for the opportunity to put on paper some of my past and current experiences and learnings on how to develop meaningful scientific support frameworks. The book is amazing, and I am looking forward to receive a copy so I can read the amazing chapters in it!

This year I learnt a lot about the importance of communicating science and the pandemic of ‘anti-science’ and absolute non-sense that circulates on the Internet. Reading the sensationalist and utter non-sensical information around COVID was an eye opener on how dangerous bad science is. Also, I think in our field there is now a lot of misinformation, ‘guruism‘, nonsense being constantly communicated to big up some egos and promote commercial enterprises and self-promotion (at a price). This is not going away sadly and I think academics need to do more in communicating science better and make it accessible to everyone as well as educating students to develop critical skills to appraise information and deliver knowledge to client/athletes/coaches. If we don’t do that as a community, others with no qualifications/knowledge will and we know full well the results are not going to be good!

On this topic, I am very humbled to be involved in the World Athletics’ Global Athletics Coaching Academy Board and I hope to provide a meaningful contribution to coaching developments in Athletics and a new approach to coach education.

On the personal front, it has been a challenge not to be able to travel this year. However, I managed to keep in touch with many friends and family around the World thanks to various videoconferencing tools. It has been also an opportunity to catch-up with people I had not contact with for years and I think the pandemic helped us reconnecting with more meaningful things and with friends we were disconnected from. Sadly, the pandemic also caused grief. Few colleagues and friends are not with us anymore, and this reminds us all of how precious life is and the fact that we should never take it for granted.

I still keep being active and I managed to overcome some injuries (as well as generate a few new ones!), but I was very happy to resume some Triathlon competitions after months of ‘Zwifting’ Indoor. You can follow my Strava efforts here. If you are in Qatar, you are most likely to see me on the wonderful Olympic Cycling Track or swimming in the sea. Training continued during lockdown and during restrictions with indoor sessions and/or training on a balcony. However, we are now able to train outside in a safe manner and I am making the most of the beautiful weather we have in Qatar.

2021 is here now, and the next few months I will be very busy with many projects/activities in Aspetar and with many collaborating institutions and I am looking forward to a year full of learning, opportunities and more chances to develop as well as a return to ‘normality’ and to possibility to travel.

I wish all the readers of this blog the best for 2021. We all deserve a much better year than 2020!