Province’s elite athletes in good hands

Physiotherapists Brett and Gwen Harrop are playing their part in keeping Otago’s athletes in top...
Physiotherapists Brett and Gwen Harrop are playing their part in keeping Otago’s athletes in top shape. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Gwen and Brett Harrop are pretty handy.

The husband and wife physiotherapist team are charged with keeping the province’s athletes in top playing order.

Brett (38) is in his second season as the Otago Volts physiotherapist. He almost has a full-time job keeping Jimmy Neesham on the field.

The talented Otago and Black Caps all-rounder got injured earlier this week just picking up his batting gloves.

That might not have happened on Gwen’s watch. The 38-year-old is joining Netball South in the newly-established role of netball smart development officer.

She starts on Monday and the job represents a shift from clinical work to an educational role.

"I’ve been putting on Band-Aids for years and fixing broken athletes," she said.

"But I think there is a lot of good evidence stacking up that injury prevention is the way forward.

"There are too many injured kids out there and netball has high rates of ankle and knee injuries."

She has a workshop scheduled this week which she hopes will provide some more clarity around her role. But essentially she will be visiting schools and running workshops on how to reduce the risk of serious injury.

"In many cases I’ve treated, if they’d had an injury prevention programme successfully established, the injuries wouldn’t have been as severe or even occurred in the first place."

Gwen is a New Zealander but Brett is Australian. The couple met while training as physiotherapists and have two children — son Luka (6) and daughter Amelie (4).

The family shifted to Dunedin last year. Brett had been working as the team physiotherapist for Bangladesh but the threat of terrorism drove them out of the country.

"Bangladesh felt like a very safe place for years and we loved our community there but it changed so quickly," Gwen said.

"It was quite gut-wrenching to see that occur — you start living in fear and start questioning ‘Why am I here?’."

Reality struck when British intelligence agencies intercepted a threat to an event the pair were organising just four days before it was due to be held.

"We’re actually lucky to be alive. It makes you realise you need to live your life and focus on your most important priorities," she said.

Life in "sleepy" Dunedin suited the family just fine. They have bought a house in the city and are "always outside exploring the parks and beaches".

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