Time flies

I realised it has been ages since I wrote the last blog post. I have not had much time available to write something meaningful here. But I have been busy writing papers/articles/book chapters as well as reading a lot and working daily with athletes and coaches.

It has been a very exciting season in Aspire with some excellent results in all sport and in the last few days some of our former students are representing Qatar at the Doha 2019 World Championships. We hosted the International Conference of Medicine and Science in Athletics in May (All videos are available here, programme here) and are about to host the 4th annual conference of the Asian Sport Institutes Association (details here). Busy days with sporting seasons in full swing and plenty of extra activities happening.

I managed to continue and complete some research work with many colleagues and some papers have been recently published with some hopefully accepted in the next few months. Here is the list of the publications so far published in 2019:

Hansen, C., Lopez, F. S., Whiteley, R., Wilhelm, A., Popovic, N., Ahmed, H. A., & Cardinale, M. (2019). A video-based analysis to classify shoulder injuries during the Handball World Championships 2015. SPORTVERLETZUNG-SPORTSCHADEN, 33 (1), 30-35. doi:10.1055/a-0787-6329
which concludes the analysis of the Handball World Championships 2015 in Qatar.
Pujari, A. N., Neilson, R. D., & Cardinale, M. (2019). Effects of different vibration frequencies, amplitudes and contraction levels on lower limb muscles during graded isometric contractions superimposed on whole body vibration stimulation. J Rehabil Assist Technol Eng, 6, 2055668319827466-?. doi:10.1177/2055668319827466
From Amit Pujari’s PhD thesis completed in the Engineering Department of the University of Aberdeen.
Boccia, G., Brustio, P. R., Moise, P., Franceschi, A., La Torre, A., Schena, F., . . . Cardinale, M. (2019). Elite national athletes reach their peak performance later than non-elite in sprints and throwing events. JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE IN SPORT, 22 (3), 342-347. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2018.08.011
With my Italian colleagues continuing to analyse and understand more about evolution of performance in Athletics form youth to senior
Varamenti, E., Cherif, A., Nikolovski, Z., Tabben, M., Jamurtas, A. Z., & Cardinale, M. (2019). Exploring possible relationships between 25(OH)D deficiency and variables related to inflammation, endothelial function, and enzymatic antioxidants in adolescent athletes: a prospective study. BIOLOGY OF SPORT, 36 (2), 113-118. doi:10.5114/biolsport.2019.81112
Pullinger, S., Varamenti, E., Nikolovski, Z., Elgingo, M., & Cardinale, M. (2019). Seasonal Changes in Performance Related Characteristics and Biochemical Marker Variability of Adolescent Table Tennis Players. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. doi:10.5812/asjsm.67278
With my colleagues in Qatar to improve our understanding and how to guide training in adolescent athletes.
I have also written an article for the Aspetar journal which is pretty much the summary of my talk at the Athletics conference hosted in Qatar few months ago (the talk is here).
Learning continues…from dashboards’ development to analysis of training data to ways to report meaningful information, there is so much to try and so much to learn still.
On a personal front, my training continues (albeit with some ‘old man injuries’) to defeat the progressive ageing and be able to fit in lycra at Triathlon events. For this, I am using HRV measurements using Marco Altini’s app, Garmin Fenix 5, Assioma Pedals (proud Italian Technology!) on my Canyon Aeroad bike, connecting everything to Strava and Training Peaks, and doing some Zwift sessions. Which makes me think that maybe I should write more about age-group training/injury issues 🙂

New Paper on progressing youth to senior in Athletics

We have finally managed to get this paper accepted and published on the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. This was part of a larger study conducted with colleagues in Italy to “map” historical data of Italian Athletics and determine progressions in different athletics events to differentiate between successful and non successful adult performers by analysing the longitudinal developments of such results.
The first part of this work was published last year on PlosOne. In this recent work we focused on sprints and throws events analysing male and female progressions with more than 5000 athletes present in the Italian official results database available in FIDAL.

A total of 5929 athletes (female: n = 2977, 50.2%) were included in the study. The age of entering competition and personal best performance was identified in the official competition records. Personal best performances were ranked in percentiles and top-level athletes were considered those in the highest 4% of the performance distribution.


Overall, when controlling for the age of entering competition, top-level athletes reached their personal best later (i.e., around 23–25 years old) for all events compared to the rest of the athletes. Moreover, regression analysis showed that entering competitions later was linked to better performances during adulthood. Also, only 17%–26% [90% CI] of the top-level adult athletes were considered as such when they were 14–17 years old.


These findings and previous ones in other events also form other research groups (like this one from our Norwegian colleagues) suggest that early sport success is not a strong predictor of top-level performance at senior level. Also, gender differences may be evident in the rate of performance development in different events.

Such analyses are important to develop reference databases to assess young athletes progression and be able to avoid de-selection of late maturers.

I will speak about this approach in a talk in Aspetar in January 2019. Before then, I will write more about this on the blog as I think it is important to have a more systematic look at youth performances around the World in Athletics in order to identify trends and provide more chances to assess athletes’ progressions.


Recent activity

Despite the fact I am on holiday, it has been quite a busy time. With my team we managed to get another paper accepted and published reviewing performance demands of Squash with particular reference to young athletes. The paper is available on the International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching.

I was in Berlin for a couple of days during the European Athletics Championships to give a lecture and participate in a fireside chat on using Sports Science effectively in Sport. The invitation came from the European Athletics Federation and it was a great initiative from Frank Dick and his collaborators to develop some professional development opportunities during major events. The initiative hopefully is the first one of many and it was called European Athletics Coaches Club, details can be found here. It was great to catch up with many friends in the Athletics community, contribute to the discussions, and get to see Charles Van Commenee again after our time in British Sport and listen to his approach to coaching high performers as well as chat about recent success of Dutch women in Team Sports. I had the chance to also attend the evening session on the 9th of August and experience the wonderful Olympic Stadium in Berlin. What an amazing facility and great atmosphere.


Finally, the Podcast I recorded with Michael Gervais some time ago was made available on iTunes. I am a big fan of Michael’s Finding Mastery Podcast and the people he has interviewed on this topic are pretty amazing. So, It is pretty humbling to be considered for this, and it was for me a great exercise in reflecting on my personal journey and how lucky I was in meeting some pretty amazing people as well as experiencing incredible opportunities.



If you want to subscribe to the podcast just go here. If you want to hear the podcast, just go on this webpage.