A Cheltenham sports therapist is bound for Australia’s Gold Coast as part of Team Scotland’s medical support team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Gareth Bate, a former Neath fly-half and sports therapy lecturer at University College Birmingham, is tasked with preparing athletes and treating injuries on one of sports’ biggest global stages. With more than 6,000 athletes from 70 nations taking part, Gareth will be working with Team Scotland athletes across 18 different sports – from athletics, basketball, boxing and gymnastics to hockey, squash and weightlifting – at the 11-day event from April 4-15.
Born and bred in South Wales, but now living in Cheltenham with his wife, Gareth first became interested in sports therapy as a career after finishing at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera secondary school in the Swansea Valley. Mad about rugby, he took a year out after school and played fly-half for Neath Athletic, during which time he saw a lot of sports injuries and became familiar with basic recovery techniques. Spurred on, Gareth enrolled on UCB’s Sports Therapy BSc (Hons) degree, impressed by the course content and facilities, as well as the opportunity to gain experience at event work such as the National Jiu-jitsu Championships and the London Marathon, before graduating in 2007.
On graduation, Gareth returned to Neath to work with the Ospreys, one of Wales’ four professional rugby union teams, getting his break through his great working relationship with the club’s forwards coach and director of rugby. “Scott went on to be the director of rugby for the Scotland team and before the 2014 Six Nations, I was asked whether I was available to join the squad in Cardiff to give them a hand,” said Gareth. “Of course I said “yes”. “Through that Six Nations and subsequent tournaments, including the 2015 World Cup, I worked closely with lead physiotherapists Stuart Patterson and Stephen Mutch, with Stephen, the head physiotherapist for CGS, proposing my role to assist at the Commonwealth Games.”
After three months of waiting to hear back, Gareth – who has covered the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Tennis Club as part of the Association of Tennis Professionals medical team – was relieved when the call finally came through.
“It’s such a great opportunity,” he said. “The role I’ll play out there is more of the maintenance involved in competing, not purely the injuries. Preparing the athletes properly is key to the team putting in the best performance and bringing back as many medals as possible. As a bonus, I also have family on the Gold Coast and my cousin is volunteering at the games.” At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Team Scotland was the fourth most successful country, winning 53 medals – 19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze.