As part of the research agreement signed with Aspetar last year, the Welsh rugby union team has concluded nine days of intensive training at Aspetar, member-organization of Aspire Zone Foundation, in preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which will be held in England from 18 September to 31 October 2015.
The Welsh team committed itself to a nine day ‘live-high, train-low’ programme while in Qatar. After a two-week altitude training camp in Switzerland, they stayed in advanced altitude-inducing normobaric hypoxic (oxygen reduced) rooms at Aspetar.
High altitudes increase the red blood cell count in the body, which means that a player can carry more oxygen. By carrying more oxygen, a player can perform greater cardiovascular exercise. The programme was also complimented by training in the heat, which contributes to increasing the body’s plasma volume, leading to a greater amount of blood in the body. The combination of altitude and heat result in greater blood adaptions that players will take back to the rugby world cup.
The entire process traditionally requires athletes to spend significant amounts of time at high altitudes in order to reap the benefits of improved physiological capacity, which leads to the overall enhancement of their athletic performance.
Furthermore, the 47-memeber squad has been training at the state-of-the-art training facilities at Aspire Dome. This climate-controlled arena houses includes a full-sized rugby pitch, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, an IAAF accredited indoor athletics track, a gymnastics hall and numerous multi-purpose courts. Aimed at nurturing elite sporting talent, this world-class arena has an established track record of enhancing athletic performance.
Commenting on the training camp, Mr Ibrahim Al-Darwish Aspetar Chief Operating Officer, from Aspetar said:
“We are delighted to have a high-calibre team such as the Welsh national rugby union team to train at Aspetar’s state-of-the-art facilities. Our philosophy at Aspetar is to assist athletes in achieving their full potential through the provision of necessary clinical support, expert knowledge and facilities to maximise their training and competitive potential. We are honoured that such top-tier teams are recognising our pilot researches for training on heat and altitudes, which we make available for all sport organisations from around the world. We wish Welsh Rugby Team every success at the 2015 Rugby World Cup”.
The athletes were also given complete access to the hospital’s medical and healthcare services, and were able to benefit from sports medicine experts and their extensive hypoxic training knowledge. This access to the hospital’s cutting-edge facilities, services and equipment played an important part in the training programme and in supporting the team’s preparation ahead of their next highly competitive championship.
Warren Gatland, coach of the Welsh rugby union team said:“Training in Doha has provided our players with the expectations we were hoping for. The welcome and facilities offered here in Qatar have been excellent, also the combination of these facilities and the weather has meant, which we have seen real benefits from through our camp here and will continue to help our Rugby team for the World Cup preparations”.
Sam Warburton, captain of the Wales rugby union team said:
“The facilities here at Aspetar and Aspire in Doha have been some of the very best we have ever experienced. We have been well looked after by our hosts, also we have been able to use state-of-the-art facilities to push ourselves as much as possible.”
Aspetar’s purpose-built normobaric hypoxic dormitory features many rooms and a large communal living area. The chamber, which utilises a complex filtration system, reduces the concentration of oxygen in the air to replicate altitudes ranging from 100 to 4,000 metres.
Aspetar has a recognised track record in screening athletes and pursuing an ambitious research programmes including a Sports Cardiology project, a programme entirely dedicated to injury prevention and numerous studies on environmental factors affecting athletes’ health and performance (e.g. exercising in the heat).
The National Sports Medicine Programme, Aspetar provides care to all athletes in Qatar, offering unique opportunities for research on and implementation of prevention initiatives.
Camp included access to sports medicine experts and facilities in Aspetar.