Jamie Stanley’s road to Tokyo and beyond
South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) Sports Physiologist Dr Jamie Stanley has accomplished a lot in his career to date, and he’s set to add to his list of achievements with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Jamie is currently working with several SASI athletes and programs in preparation for the Games, specialising in performance and recovery optimisation.
The 2020 Exercise and Sport Science Australia Accredited Sports Scientist of the Year has worked with the likes of Olympic gold medallist Kyle Chalmers and the Australian Men’s Track Endurance Cycling Team who have broken two world records as a group.
Becoming a Sports Physiologist was not always the primary goal for Jamie, as he originally aspired to be a professional triathlete.
“In my early years, triathlons were big on TV, and I thought it would be pretty cool to become a pro triathlete,” Stanley said.
“It took me 10 years to tick that box, and I then raced at an elite level for five years.”
It was when Jamie took a school trip to Canberra in Year 10 and visited the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) that he realised he wanted to be involved in elite sport in some way if an athletic career was not viable.
“I thought the AIS was a really cool place doing really cool things, so if I wasn’t good enough to be an athlete, I wanted to be a part of the industry another way.”
Jamie is originally from New South Wales but moved to South Australia in 2014 to become the Senior Sports Physiologist at SASI, after spending 10 years in Queensland chasing triathlons and tertiary education.
“The sports science job industry is quite small, so if you get tapped on the shoulder to take a job, then you take it.
“Having said that, it has been the best career move for me.”
The former triathlete’s original role with SASI was to work with their programs such as cycling, swimming, water polo and hockey.
“They were all very developmental programs at the time, and then as the years went on, I tried doing more innovative things.
“I was really keen to push myself and push the programs I was working in.”
Jamie’s work caught the attention of people across other elite athlete programs, and he found success with Kyle Chalmers at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Following Kyle’s gold medal performance, AusCycling approached Jamie to play an integral role in their high-performance program, giving him the opportunity to work as their Senior Sports Physiologist for the national track team for the past five years.
A special interest of Jamie’s work is integrating environmental stress into training to enhance adaptations.
“Typically, if you have a competition in the heat, you go and train in the heat so your body is ready for when you compete.
“Having previously spent time as an athlete, I was interested in finding smarter ways to train and getting the most out of what you’ve got, when you’re not as genetically gifted as others.
“That mentality led me to investigate ways for us to get more out of training, because at the Olympic level the athletes are already training a lot, so it’s about being smarter.
“The effect of heat is very similar to what exercise is, so going in the heat is like doing low-level exercise.
“If you ramp that up and really turn the screws with the heat, then potentially that might give the athletes a little bit extra in terms of adaptations.”
SASI para-cyclist Paige Greco is one of the elite athletes who works with Jamie, and she has high praise for the training they are doing together.
“Jamie has been really amazing and is always coming up with new ways to push me on the bike.
“We are doing a lot of training in the heat chamber getting used to the conditions in Tokyo, which makes me feel a lot more confident heading into the Paralympics.”
Along with Jamie’s many roles in the sports science industry, he is also a member of the AIS Tokyo Heat Project.
“That was a pretty cool thing to be invited to be on.
“Essentially, the goal of the project is to help develop guidelines that can be used across all sports to prompt coaches and staff to think about the potential heat stress that athletes might experience in Tokyo.
“The project has been a good conversation starter with various sports who now want to learn more about how they can do things better, more specifically in their context.”
On the back of his work preparing athletes for the upcoming Games, Jamie has been asked to travel to Tokyo with the Australian Paralympics Team.
Jamie says he looks forward to hopefully seeing the athletes deliver the results they have been working hard for over many years.
Beyond Tokyo, the Senior Sports Physiologist’s long-term hope is that the 2032 Olympics will be held in Brisbane.
“The Olympics being in Brisbane will likely mean there will be increased opportunities to work with athletes in Australia which is exciting.”
Jamie has already achieved so much in the sports science industry, and there is no doubt his future ventures will be closely followed by the sporting world.