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Birmingham 2022: Kate Hutchings ready for Commonwealth Games role

25 July 2022

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 we start with Kate Hutchings, Senior Sports Physician, who tells us about her role over the next few weeks.

It really is coming home for Kate Hutchings, a graduate of the University of Birmingham, who will be playing a key role within Team England headquarters at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Having qualified as a Sports and Exercise Medicine Consultant in 2012, Hutchings joined the EIS in 2014, and she brings extensive major games experience to this summer’s event, having worked at London 2012 and Tokyo 2020, as well as the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (2018) and various World and European Championships in between.

She will be one of six doctors based in Team England headquarters this month, spread across three sites – the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick and the NEC. Hutchings is heading up the NEC team alongside Physiotherapist Colin Patterson, and her role won’t be lacking in variety, with Badminton, Boxing, Netball, Table Tennis, Weightlifting and Para Weightlifting all part of her remit.

In terms of the work done in getting ready for the Games, Hutchings said: “There’s been a lot of preparation over the past year with Teams meetings and then more regular face-to-face meetings over the past six months. All the ‘team behind the team’ met at Warwick University about three months ago, where the whole of Team England came together, and it was great to meet all of the volunteers.

“We had lots of presentations from different teams, as well as athletes giving their previous Games experiences, which was fantastic as it gave the team an insight into what to expect at a major games.”

Working with different specialists across Team England is something which comes naturally to Hutchings, having been a part of the EIS and its collaborative approach to offering support that enables elite athletes and sports to perform at their best.

“It’s hugely important,” Hutchings said of that work across disciplines.

“A psychology colleague and I will be the mental health leads for our headquarters, and there’s been a lot of preparation. It’s been fantastic to work with colleagues across all disciplines and be also involved in areas outside of medicine, such as operational planning.”

A large chunk of preparation time has been dedicated to Covid-19, which Hutchings believes will be the biggest challenge for her and her colleagues.

“I think, unfortunately, [the biggest challenge] is still Covid. I’d like to say it was something different. Logistically and operationally, it’s going to be easier because it’s a home games, but we’re still testing a week out and three days before, and symptomatically inside [the athletes’ village].

“But obviously we’ll have so many different nations coming, and that will be challenging. With a PCR test, you can still test positive if you had an infection in the prior 90 days, and so we have worked closely with the organising committee to ensure we have clear pathways.”

For all of the challenges and hard work ahead, there’s no doubt that there is excitement, too. Hutchings looks forward to seeing the teams she works with do well, explaining: “I work mainly with our hockey team here at Bisham and I have done so for many years. So even though I’m not covering hockey directly, if I’m able to go and watch them, that would be fantastic.”

She added: “I really wanted to be involved in a home game again – the atmosphere is very different, and it’s more exciting, for our athletes and the crowds. For me, I was a Birmingham University graduate, and I did a lot of my junior doctor jobs in Birmingham, so it’s a bit like going home.”

Click here to visit the Birmingham 2022 website.