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Top Commonwealth Games role for Professor Nicola Phillips

3 April 2018

Nicola Phillips
Prof Nicola Phillips

Professor Nicola Phillips will draw upon all of her major event experience as she leads Team Wales as Chef de Mission at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Australia.

The physiotherapist from Cardiff University’s School of Healthcare Sciences is responsible for helping ensure more than 200 athletes can perform to the best of their ability at Gold Coast 2018.

“We’ve got 214 athletes competing over here at Gold Cost so it’s a lot of people from a lot of different sports and many ages,” said Professor Phillips.

“We’re trying to make sure we cater for everybody so that their preparation is as smooth as possible and all the different hassles that might happen from coming to a different country are taken out of the way, just to allow them to concentrate on competing.”

A Chef de Mission must carry out key tasks such as overseeing travel arrangements and ensuring athletes are entered into the correct events but they are also a leader, motivator and mentor.

Professor Phillips said athletes knew exactly what was expected of them at the Games – and that was to fulfil their individual potential at their chosen event.

“We’ve given a goal to athletes to get as many personal bests as they can for the team,” she said.

“We think that if everyone works as hard as they can, we’ve got some really good athletes so the medals can take care of themselves if everyone gets personal bests.

“That’s the only thing they can control – they can’t control how somebody else competes.

“We would like to see a successful Games with as many personal bests as we can, and we will have inspired people back home to take up a sport, get involved in sport in some way. That would be a fantastic thing.”

These are her first Games as Chef de Mission, but Professor Phillips has a wealth of experience, including the Olympic Games and working with Team Wales at previous Commonwealth Games.

“I’ve worked with Team Wales for a very long time, for over 30 years, and this will be my ninth Commonwealth Games,” she said.

“Originally I worked as a physiotherapist, so a very different role, but you get to see a lot of the operation and the logistics that happen.

“There have been massive changes in that time – how well prepared athletes are now compared to the support they had early on, so that’s changed a lot, but the role is very different as well, it’s more diverse.”

Professor Phillips is as driven and passionate now as when she started, perhaps because she continues to be inspired by the commitment of the athletes themselves.

“I was in a reception from the British High Commission here and there were athletes from different home countries and they were talking about what happened to them, what inspired them, some of the setbacks they’d had and how that spurred them on to do more,” she said.

“It really reminded me about why I do this job because I get to hear those fantastic stories about what they’ve done to get where they are.”

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games run from 4-15 April 2018.

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