Cricket: Otago training helps England

Jeni Pearce, a University of Otago home science graduate and head of performance nutrition at the...
Jeni Pearce, a University of Otago home science graduate and head of performance nutrition at the English Institute of Sport, speaks about her international career yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Extensive preparations for the English cricket team's recent successful Ashes campaign in Australia included highly individualised dietary advice and support, an international sports nutritionist, Jeni Pearce, said yesterday.

Ms Pearce is a University of Otago home science graduate who these days is the London-based head of performance nutrition at the English Institute of Sport and is also the English cricket team's nutritionist.

And she is helping prepare English athletes for the London Olympic Games next year.

She was back at Otago University to give a keynote talk on the final day of the consumer and applied sciences three-day centenary conference.

In a keynote address, she noted that her 30-year-long career had been "full of challenges, rewards, dedication and outstanding experiences".

The overall fitness of the English cricket team had attracted comment during its recent Australian Ashes tour, and highly individualised and well-researched nutritional advice and support were part of the overall preparations, she said.

Physiological tests showed that some team members sweated much more freely than others after comparable exercise.

Specially-prepared drinks aimed to replace the salt lost through exercise, and were individualised, taking account of the physiology of individual players.

Cricketers also had different nutritional requirements, depending on their role in the team, such as wicket keepers or pace bowlers.

Her long career in sports nutrition had also included extensive earlier involvement in New Zealand sport, including rugby and rugby sevens, as well as the Warriors rugby league team and many international sailing events.

"It's been a lot of fun, but it's been an awful lot of hard work, as well.

"It's very exciting the things that happen if you do a degree from Otago, particularly in home science."

Over the years she had learned "to become comfortable with being uncomfortable" at times and to take some calculated risks.

There was no text book which provided all the answers in performance nutrition.

Skills she had gained at Otago had helped her adapt scientific information to specific cases, as well as to undertake further research and develop practical solutions.

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