una2On Friday the 23rd of September, I watched a documentary called “Tommy Bowe’s Body Check” in science class. It is based around the Ulster rugby player Tommy Bowe and it follows him on his road to full fitness after kidney surgery.  The documentary has many scientific elements and it truly shows us why Bowe has gained such success in his sporting career. It also is very interesting and educational to watch as throughout the documentary I was captivated by not just the brilliant cinematography but also the content which included scientific aspects such as genetics and technology, which I have to say were what intrigued me most.

The first scientific aspect of this documentary I would like to discuss is genetics as I was quite surprised by how much sporting success relies on it. In the documentary we see Bowe and his family  give blood samples to Professor Niall Moyna from DCU, who in turn checks to see whether their DNA contain exercise responding genes. From these tests, we find out that Bowe placed in the medium-to-high category; however, this was not to be the best in the family with his younger brother David taking the top spot. This showed to me that though it is important to have these responding genes, you must not just be willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears, but have the facilities and drive to push through as otherwise everyone could do it. It also gave me some insight into why the athletes in developed countries tend to do better in sporting events then those in undeveloped ones as although, an athlete in a developing country may have all the correct genetic attributes, they may not receive the opportunity or have access to the right facilities to achieve sporting success.

Secondly, I would like to talk about how the scientific advancements in sporting technology have become a key aspect of an athlete’s training. This interested me as I never realised how much technology a professional sportsperson used on a weekly basis and it truly gave me an inside view into their lives. For example, I was fascinated to see how they used the anti-gravity treadmill to analyze Bowe’s running technique as it meant that he had the ability to view his faults and improve on them, such as the fact that he favoured one leg over the other.  I think this is a great advancement in sporting technology as it allows the athlete to refine their performance and become a superior sportsperson. I was also interested in the sensors Bowe used during his recovery as through the virtual reality headgear and sensors connected to his clothes, the scientists were able to track his reaction time and ability to deceive other players. I think this is very clever as it will not just sharpen Bowe’s performance but, it will give him insight into his technical performance. Also, it will be very helpful to injured players who are not quite ready to be put at risk on the field.

Lastly, I would like to discuss nutrition and “Viper Unit” Technology as these are both scientific aspects which are observed closely in professional athletes. Nutrition plays a major role in sport; however, I was taken aback at just how closely it was looked at. For example, Bowe had to eat five thousand calories a day and within those calories they had to contain the correct number of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.  I also enjoyed looking into how Bowe’s Body Mass Index was used and how he had to focus on both his physical training and nutrition to get it down.  Next, I was fascinated by the “Viper Unit” technology used during training and matches as through the GPS sports bras the coaches had the ability to see all of the players standings such as their heart rate, speed and the impact they were hit at. I think this was very clever as it will not just show the coaches where the players can improve but, also it will tell them when their player has a concussion and prevent serious injuries.

As you can see, this documentary is exceptional and through it we can truly see why Tommy Bowe has had such success.

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