The Commonwealth Games are fast approaching, with Birmingham 2022’s Opening Ceremony taking place on Thursday 28th July. To celebrate these home games, we are highlighting the work being done by EIS (English Institute of Sport) practitioners as part of Team England – and now we shine a spotlight on Jonny Bucke, Lead Physiotherapist, who tells us about his role over the next couple of weeks.
You can’t get much more of a ‘home games’ than working two miles from your house – and that’s what Jonny Bucke will be doing at Birmingham 2022.
Bucke has been with the EIS since 2014, and has covered both Olympic Games in Tokyo (2021) and Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast (2018), but this month is going to be a very different experience for him.
That’s because he was focused on Gymnastics at those games – having worked at every European and World Gymnastics Championship since 2015, and become lead physio at British Gymnastics in 2021 – whereas this summer he’s part of a team of physios at Team England headquarters.
Bucke’s role is a multi-sport one, and rather than being based in one athletes’ village, athletes and support staff are split across three different sites – the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick and the NEC.
“That will throw up all sorts of challenges in terms of logistical things, like getting around the city and communicating with the rest of the team,” Bucke explained.
“We’ll have three or four days to set everything up, to create a performance environment in university halls. It’s going to be turning student accommodation into something that resembles a performance environment, and then there will be the clinical element in terms of me as a physiotherapist.
“I’ll be working with different sports, which I’m really excited about, having done eight years in Gymnastics. It will be nice to have a different experience outside of that. I’ve been told I’m going to be leading on Beach Volleyball, which will be totally different!”
Bucke added: “There’s going to be all sorts of other parts [to the role] – supporting other physiotherapists who come with their sport, acting as a sounding board, if they need a second opinion or some advice.
“With it being a home games, a lot of sports are going to travel with their physios, whereas in Australia or the Tokyo Olympics it wasn’t necessarily the case. So I think a lot of the role as an HQ physio will be coordinating with the physios who come with their sport.
“I’m really looking forward to that – meeting new practitioners and working with different athletes as well. Hockey, for example, might have 18 athletes and one physio, so if their physio is inundated with treatments, we [HQ physios] can step in and give them a helping hand.
“Then there’s doing the mundane jobs that have to be done – sorting the ice baths out, cleaning equipment, doing stock takes – all those kind of things that no-one notices but which will be another big part of the role.”
Clearly, it’s a role which demands versatility, but that’s something which Bucke feels well prepared for.
“Already in Gymnastics, we cover three essentially different sports [Men’s Artistic Gymnastics, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Trampoline], so even though it’s one sport it is essentially a multi-sport job that we do,” he said. “Every sport has its own athletes, its own set of coaches, its own set of rules, its own culture.
“So that and the experience I’ve got through the EIS was definitely instrumental in me getting the [Commonwealth Games] role.
“Being in the EIS, you get exposed to most people that you’re going be seeing [in Birmingham], and having those relationships already in the bag will definitely help me. Ian Pyper [Performance Science Lead at Birmingham 2022], for example, has worked in the EIS for many years, leading the performance science side of things.
“In sport now, gone are the days of the physio being the sole science and medicine practitioner running on with their bucket and sponge. Now in Gymnastics we’ve got a huge multi-disciplinary team, and if someone gets injured, it’s a team effort to try and bring them back – not just the physio working with the athletes, but the whole team.
“It’ll be interesting to see which practitioners the different sports bring in [to Birmingham] and see the value they put on them in that in-competition period. Hopefully I can bring some of those learnings back to [Gymnastics] after the Games.”
Bucke has worked hard to ensure that the gymnasts aren’t left with sub-optimal physio cover while he is away, and now he can look forward to a true home games experience.
“I live in Birmingham actually, so I’m really looking forward to the fact that it is literally a home games for me,” he said.
“Although I’m staying in the village, I’m about two miles from my house, which seems a bit bizarre! I’m really excited to share the experience with family and friends who are going to different events. There’ll be more of a local buzz.
“Obviously Tokyo was behind closed doors due to Covid, so there wasn’t much of an atmosphere out there, and in Australia it’s such a different time zone that you get a sense locally but you don’t get a sense of how it’s going down in the UK.
“I really can’t wait.”
Click here to visit the Birmingham 2022 website.