Teesside University lecturer Julie Sparrow is preparing to play a key Physiotherapy role at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. This will be Julie’s third Olympic experience as a Physiotherapist and she has also worked at four Commonwealth Games.
Julie, 57, from Wolviston, near Billingham, has worked as a senior lecturer in Physiotherapy at the University since 2001. At the London Olympic and Paralympic Games she will be part of an elite team of ‘Physiotherapy trouble-shooters’, ready to respond across the Olympic venues, to ensure the physiotherapy needs of athletes from around the world are met. Over 750 Physiotherapists are expected to be volunteering their services, to help the London Organizing Committee of the Olympics Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) deliver the best service to the world’s best athletes.
Julie will be based in London for a seven week period, covering the run up to the Olympics and the conclusion of the Paralympics. She said: “I remember very clearly the day London was announced for 2012. I was sat watching it on my computer at the University and ran around the landing so excited. The way I feel about the Olympics being here next year is indescribable; I think it’s going to be absolutely fabulous. I’ve spoken to cabbies in the capital and they’re really looking forward to it, they’re very proud of their city. I’ll be able to see whatever there is to see, if you are behind the scenes what you get to view is even more special.”
Former PE teacher Julie is a Teesside graduate, achieving a certificate in Physiotherapy from Teesside Polytechnic in 1983. She previously worked as a HQ Physiotherapist with team GB at Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, taking secondments from her previous role with South Tees NHS Trust. In Atlanta she was based with the diving and fencing teams and Sydney with the rowers.
At Sydney she saw Sir Steve Redgrave clinch his fifth Olympic rowing gold. She said: “That was such an amazing day. I was on the waterside working with the rowing team and I was able to watch them come off the water after the victory. They were away from the crowds and cameras, carrying their boat with medals hanging proudly from their necks. That was a privileged position to be in and so emotional.”
Julie is also delighted that some of her former students will also be working as Physiotherapists at London 2012. She added: “It was my ambition when I came into teaching that I would have graduates working at the Olympics. Sarah McDonnell, a Master’s graduate has worked at the winter Olympics with the Bobsleigh team and Alistair Little and Rob Smart, who was in the first cohort I taught, will be at London. I’ll probably catch up with them for a beer!”
Julie has worked at the following Commonwealth Games: Kuala Lumpa in 1998, Manchester in 2002, Melbourne in 2006 and Delhi last year.