UWC alumnus Warren Lucas has been appointed as the exercise scientist for Gymnastics South Africa’s national teams ahead of the African Championships, World Championships and the Olympic Games.
Not only is he the first exercise scientist for the organisation, but he is applying the knowledge he obtained through his studies to ensure the development of gymnastics in the country. He is among countless UWC graduates who have gone on to improve society.
“As gymnastics grows and develops in South Africa, so does the need for knowledge within exercise science and sports medicine,” explained Lucas, who obtained his BA in Sport and Recreation Management (2011), BA (Hons) Sport and Recreation Management (2012), and MA in Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science in 2016.
“We have made progress in developing a basis for knowledge within gymnastics in the past through some of my research as a Masters student at UWC, as well as through the work of Dr Denise Bouah in the Sport Psychology of high-performance athletes, and Dominic Rhodes with his work in Injuries and Physiotherapy of gymnasts.”
Lucas, Chairperson of the Cape Town Gymnastics Association, said they are exploring exercise performance and body composition of gymnasts. This, he added, is in line with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture’s call on all sport codes to adopt exercise, sport and medical science services to support their national squads.
The Mitchell's Plain-born Lucas will serve for the 2021 competition cycle, and his contract may be renewed after that.
“I am responsible for overseeing the body composition, strength and conditioning and fitness assessments of gymnasts on the High Performance Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics teams, the Senior Rope Skipping team and the Aerobic Gymnastics team,” he explained.
“As a former member of the Protea Team in Aerobic Gymnastics, I am in the position to extend assistance to current Team SA gymnasts, and take the lead in the development and scientific support of gymnasts, thereby, improving performance through evidence-based practices within Exercise Science and Gymnastics for South Africa.”
Lucas could not hide his happiness about his new appointment: “This has been my dream from the beginning of my studying journey within Sport Science at UWC, and this is one of the most exciting employment opportunities I’ve had to date in my career as an Exercise Scientist.”
And what would he like to achieve as the first exercise scientist for Gymnastics SA? “Gymnastics is a multifaceted sport that requires a high level of physical fitness and skill to succeed,” he said.
“Speed, strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, balance, and power are all physical abilities that play a role in the success of a competitive gymnast. A gymnast’s physical abilities may also be related to the ability to sustain injury-free participation in the sport, and I would like to contribute to the education and training of coaches to facilitate increased understanding and awareness of these sport science principles. Additionally, I’d like to provide workshops to gymnasts on nutritional management, life-skills, personal development and possible career guidance”.
Lucas, who still works closely with UWC’s Interdisciplinary Centre of Sport Science and Development as well as the Department of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science, has advised the youth to prioritise their work by applying savvy time management practices, which should help to reduce academic workload by almost half.
“And if you are thinking of becoming an exercise scientist, sport science researcher/lecturer, sport physiotherapist, biokineticist, personal trainer, coach or fitness instructor, ensure that you connect with people who are working in these capacities and ask questions about their daily duties, and be available to shadow, volunteer and learn through experience and participation. In doing so, you will be expanding your network of people who are in these positions, which will make it much easier later to connect with industry professionals when you are qualified.”