Department for Health

Research student insight

Steffi Colyer

Steffi ColyerSteffi Colyer is a graduate from our BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science programme, and is now undertaking an PhD research project titled, Enhancing start performance in ice-track sports.

She is working with Dr Aki Salo, Dr James Bilzon and Dr Keith Stokes, all experts in sport and exercise science with fairly diverse research areas.

Steffi has always been fascinated with how elite sport performances are achieved, an interest that was further enhanced through her undergraduate studies.

I was fortunate to spend my placement year providing sports science servicing to elite athletes at the New South Wales Institute of Sport in Sydney, Australia. This provided me with unique experiences in a practical setting where scientific research findings are applied to enhance athletic performance.

Research project

Steffi’s project is being conducted in collaboration with British Skeleton, UK Sport and the University of Bath. The primary aim of this research is to enhance start performance in skeleton.

Skeleton is one of three ice-track Winter Olympic sports and involves sprinting between 20 to 30 metres in a bent over position before ‘loading’ the sled and adopting a face down, head first position. The athlete continues to accelerate under gravity for the remainder of the 1 - 1.5 km track and therefore a fast start is considered to be a prerequisite for success in skeleton.

Over the last ten years, skeleton has been one of Britain’s most successful Winter Olympic sports. The dry-land push-track at the University provides an excellent facility for our British athletes to train on across the summer training season.

The initial stage of Steffi’s research project involves tracking athletes across the summer training season to identify the key physical characteristics underlying skeleton start performance.

There has been very little research conducted this area, and Steffi hopes her work will provide important knowledge to coaches and athletes to further the success of skeleton in this country.27926-0155-steffi-colyer-filming-292

Increasing our understanding should allow interventions to be implemented which will hopefully give our athletes a greater chance of success in competitions, such as at the 2014 Winter Olympics and beyond.

She has enjoyed studying at the University of Bath and working with some of the best researchers in the field.

I think we are very lucky to have the University’s sporting facilities on our doorstep. I made the most of the great facilities whilst playing tennis for the University during my undergraduate studies. Nowadays I spend more time conducting my research work in the STV than training, but still consider myself very lucky to have everything I need on site!

Future plans

For the future, Steffi plans to develop her skills as a researcher and sports scientist.

I hope to present my work at conferences and become a BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist.