Joining us this week on the Supporting Champions podcast is Head of Physiology at the English Institute of Sport (EIS), Dr. Emma Ross. I first met Emma at a scientific conference in 2009 and she blew me away with her ability to communicate and translate complex ideas and concepts. A few years later I appointed Emma as Head of Physiology at the EIS and after moving on from the system in 2016, I have kept a close eye on how people and schemes of work progress, develop and grow. This is exactly what Emma has done, particularly in her work on an essential project around the female athlete. In this conversation you will hear about several concepts around the female athlete and obvious discussions around things such as the menstrual cycles, taboo, equality, ethics and positive/negative behaviours that can enrich or erode cultures in different directions. Inevitably we discussed some potential implications and applications of support both inside and outside of sport.

Show notes

3:52 – Steve and Emma begin by exploring Emma’s background growing up, her journey in sport as a keen rugby player and endurance runner and the role she currently holds at the EIS.

9:28 – After becoming a mother and embarking on the female athlete project at the EIS, Emma has spent a lot of time reflecting on the support she received from her parents growing up and the influence that has had on her work in academia and sport.

14:42 – Get out and speak out loud – one of Emma’s top pieces of advices for any aspiring sport scientist. Growing up, Emma spent a lot of time in debating groups and acknowledges this accelerating the skills required to lead and influence people.

17:51 – Steve and Emma begin to explore Emma’s PhD research on monitoring the mechanisms of fatigue during physical activity via transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques.

28:25 – After transitioning from PhD studies and academia into her role at the EIS as Head of Physiologist, Emma discusses some of the challenges and lessons learnt from this period.

41:22 – Steve asks Emma to share some of the origins, background, data and insights on the female athlete campaign and how this is now optimising the support of the female athlete within the system.

1:04:38 – Emma discusses some of the behaviours that can enrich or erode the ability to optimise female athlete support, particularly around the importance of role models, removing taboo and ridding cultures of silence, secrecy and judgment.

1:14:50 – Emma extends on the importance of female role models and diversifying the workforce in sport and beyond in order to optimise and innovate.

1:21:08 – Emma expands more on how she now shares her role with another female leader within the EIS so that she can sustainably support and develop her family and career.

1:27:30 – Steve rounds off the discussion by asking Emma what her top tips would be for sport and business leaders to better embrace females in the workforce and as leaders.

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Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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