A delegation of elite Chinese sports scientists and Olympic coaches spent eight days attending lectures and discussions with Neag School of Education Department of Kinesiology experts to learn the latest in advanced sports and exercise science.
According to UConn Human Performance Laboratory Director Carl M. Maresh, PhD, conversations with the 47-member group gave faculty and students an exciting opportunity to discuss applied science topics in a very pragmatic way.
It was the second time in two years that Chinese sports scientists have spent time within the kinesiology department, which is home to the top-ranked doctoral kinesiology program in the nation. Twenty-two sports scientists visited in 2012. In both instances, delegates were selected by China’s State General Administration of Sports, the government agency responsible for organizing Chinese national sports events and promoting their country’s professional and amateur athletes’ sports development.
“These are some of the top professionals in their field in China,” said Kinesiology Professor William J. Kraemer, Ph.D., who met Chinese sports officials, and told them about UConn’s expertise, during a 2011 strength and conditioning conference in China. “The interactions allow us to share some of the latest sports science information available, and at the same time help promote UConn on the international scene.”
The visiting experts were given the opportunity to attend lectures and interact with some of the United States’ top researchers in sports and exercise science, including among others, Kraemer who spoke on “Designing Resistance Training Programs”; Douglas J. Casa, Ph.D., who spoke on “Maximizing Athletic Performance in the Heat”; Lawrence E. Armstrong, Ph.D., who spoke on “Thermoregulation and Hydration Needs in Sports”; and Lindsay J. DiStefano, Ph.D., who spoke on “Movement Quality for Lower Extremity Injury and Prevention.”
Department of Kinesiology doctoral students also presented highlights of various field studies related to long-distance triathlon athletes.
“We are impressed by the high academic level of UConn’s kinesiology department, as well as the overall level of applied strength and conditioning, sports nutrition and exercise science available here,” said Xia Lunhao, division director of the China State General Administration of Sports’ officials training center. “We’ll bring this better understanding back to China.”
Lunch at Geno’s Grill, a restaurant owned by UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, was also part of their agenda.
Auriemma, who from 2009-12 coached the U.S. women’s national basketball team and in 2012 led them to an Olympic gold medal, shared stories about time he’s spent with China’s national basketball teams: “The Olympics have given me an opportunity to interact with coaches and athletes from around the world—and as much as other countries learn from us, I also learn a lot from them. I was very, very impressed with how hard and how intense the Chinese teams’ training regimen was.”
The delegation also toured the Korey Stringer Institute, the Human Performance Laboratory, the Burton Family Football Complex and the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, where they watched the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams’ first full practice of the season. They also watched the UConn men’s soccer game against Columbia University.
Excited about the possibility of a third visit to UConn next year, Maresh said that “The Chinese delegation members and kinesiology faculty have already started talking about large-scale collaborations, including the possibility of establishing a graduate student exchange program, creating a China-based undergraduate exercise science program, arranging for collaborative research projects, and perhaps even bringing some of the Chinese coaches and athletes to UConn to train.”
“It is impressive that despite the language barrier, a very refreshing ‘can-do attitude’ is readily apparent in members of the delegation,” Maresh said.
Excerpts from the Hartford Courant