Chiropractor Tom Greenway at London 2012

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Tom Olympic Rings

Chiropractor Tom Greenway is renowned within sporting circles for his expertise treating sports injuries and working with the professional elite. He participated at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, and has worked with Chelsea Football Club and Queens Park Rangers. 

Here, Tom shares a few insights about his London 2012 experience.

Working at London 2012

I was invited to join the LOCOG Physical Therapies Work-stream 4 years ago. I had been working with the British Olympic  Association at the Olympic Medical Institute so was already well known for my work with elite sport and was appointed the chiropractic lead.

My role was very involved as it involved all aspects of planning, organising and running the medical services within the Olympic and Paralympics Games. The purpose of these services were to ensure that every athlete from every nation had access to the best physical therapy care – this is particularly important for the athletes from the poorer nations and makes it fair for all.

Tom_Olympicsteam200 There were 32 Medical services venues which I was regularly at making sure things were running smoothly. I also had a clinical role working with the other therapists and making sure the well-being of the athletes and visitors were taken care of.

 Leading up to the Opening Ceremony

The atmosphere pre-Games was very relaxed, friendly and professional. The Olympic Park was the hub of the Games. It also produced a unique environment as it was the first time the athletes could actually walk themselves in to the park without needing transport. This is the first time that this has been possible at an Olympics as usually the village is quite far away.

All the athletes go off training and then come back to the village to eat, get treatment and sleep. The colours of all the flags and the nations of the world all in one place at once was amazing and very special. I used to leave Teddington very early and got back very late.

 The multi disciplines of treatment used for the athletes

It was truly inspirational to see chiropractors working alongside the osteopaths and physiotherapists. Even though all the professions are very similar they each have and give a different perspective on providing care. This means that the athlete gets the benefit of the best therapist in that particular field at the appropriate time.

This resulted in  a well spirited cross-discipline approach that worked so well the IOC awarded the polyclinic the best medical service in the last 18 Olympic Games and this was largely impart due to the interdisciplinary services offered.


The highlights working with the London 2012 athletes

Tom_OlympicflagOne of my highlights was treating an athlete that had a significant injury that looked like it would rule him out of the Games and 10 days later seeing him win the gold medal in the stadium.

 The most nerve wracking moment

The most nerve racking moment was treating my first Paralympics athlete. I had no Paralympics experience prior to the Games, however I quickly realised that the fantastic thing about the Paralympics athletes is that as they live and train with their disability so effectively, it does not represent a disability at all; they are just like all elite athletes so that was well within my scope of practice.

 The moment of 2012 that will last forever

My memory of the Games will be seeing Mo Farah win the gold medal. As the local athlete of Teddington and as a runner myself, I understand the commitment running 120 miles a week takes and at the speed he runs too; seeing him win the medal with the grace he did was very emotional.

Having been part of the Games experience for so long and having been so busy during it I am only just starting to realise that we really did a good job and are fortunate that so many people have had their own personal Olympic and Paralympics experience.

Whether that was the frustration of having their road closed because of the cycle race, to actually being in the Stadium on Super Saturday, to being a volunteer handing out uniforms at UDAC, to watching the flame travel down the river, it all makes the memories of the summer of 2012 that much better.