19th August 2014, 12:18pm
Top para-cyclist to get expert help from University of Lincoln
Liz McTernan, photo by David Travis One of Europe’s top para-cyclists will prepare for her Rio 2016 Paralympic bid with expert support from sport scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK.

European number two Liz McTernan (49), from Louth, Lincolnshire, will work with researchers in the University’s School of Sport and Exercise Science to improve her performance on the recumbent handbike between now and the Games, which take place in September 2016.

Available expertise are biomechanical analysis, nutrition advice, sports psychology, physiological and strength testing, conditioning and aerodynamics.

Liz competes in the Women’s Handbike 4 (WH4) category as part of the Alford Wheelers team and aspires to be part of the Team GB Paralympic team heading to the Games in Brazil in 2016. She is the British number one and also ranked 6th in the world for that category.

“There are enormous benefits to be gained from using the technology available at the University’s Human Performance Centre,” said Liz, a mother-of-two who was paralysed from the waist down in an accident in 2005, and took up sport as part of her rehabilitation.

“I receive no financial support so I have to raise all my own funds to train and compete. To add in the cost of specialist tests like the ones I will be able to access through the University would be prohibitive.

“I particularly want to focus on my seating on the handbike and the aerodynamics of my position, which are really important to gaining more speed. I’m also looking forward to some muscle testing to see if I can iron out some imbalances, as well as an analysis of my technique to work out the optimum rotations per minute.

"My coach, Bryan Steel, and I are very excited to see how we can all benefit from the collaboration with the University of Lincoln.”

So far Liz, who worked as a graphic designer before retraining as a teacher, has already undergone some biomechanical testing at the University. It revealed that an aspect of her rotation style was leaving her prone to injury. She is now working with her coach to adapt her technique.

Before taking up handcycling, Liz took part in triathlons, competing internationally for Great Britain for two years, winning one bronze, three silver, and two gold medals in European and World Championship Series races. She switched to handcycling in 2013.  

Her next race is the European Handcycle Federation event in Italy in September 2014, where she aims to reach the number one women’s ranking in Eurpoe.

Sports biomechanics specialist Dr Sandy Willmott from the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Lincoln, said: “Working with elite athletes is a win-win situation.

“We can provide them with access to cutting-edge testing in the Human Performance Centre, along with expert advice about how to apply those results to their training and competition.

“In return our staff and students have the opportunity to work across a diverse range of activities, each of which requires a unique approach and perspective. This provides wonderful experience for the students involved, and can lead to the development of new research techniques and opportunities.”
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