Feb. 8, 2022
We go behind the scenes with UCalgary physician at 2022 Winter Games
A University of Calgary-based physician is offering his medical skills at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. Dr. Victor Lun, MD, is a veteran Olympics volunteer, having previously served at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
“The highlight of attending both Games was walking with the athletes in the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremonies. The energy was amazing and created a tremendous feeling of excitement and patriotism," he says.
A physician from University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre since 1997, Lun is part of the Canadian Health and Science team at the Games, which opened Feb. 4. Lun, who received his MD at the University of British Columbia, is also one of the medical directors at the Sport Medicine Centre.
On the field of play
There are three separate athletes’ villages at the Games: Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou. Lun is designated to provide medical care for the Canadian bobsleigh, skeleton and luge athletes who compete at the National Sliding Centre at the Yanquing village. This aligns perfectly with his experience as the team physician for Canada’s national long-track speedskating and UCalgary’s Dinos football teams.
Lun’s role as a physician doing medical coverage is quite unique. A normal day-to-day for Lun includes attending any number of practice sessions and competitions where he can be put into action immediately in the case of an injury. However, he says, “We (physicians) really hope to be underutilized as much as possible.”
There’s no 'I' in team
Behind each athlete, there’s a massive team who all have significant roles in the Olympics, including coaches, exercise physiologists, physicians, physiotherapists, massage therapists, sport psychologists, equipment technicians, and dietitians. In the Canadian system, this is called the Integrated Support Teams (IST).
During the four years leading up to each Olympics, the IST meets regularly to discuss optimization of athletes’ health and performance. “It’s a big take-home message that, behind every athlete, there’s a team of people that work together to support the athlete and get them where they want to be,” says Lun.
Lun says it’s more than just seeing who stands on the podium. “It’s always fun to win, but there are also losing moments,” he says. “We’re trying to help athletes get to their maximum potential and it’s ultimately the teamwork and working with others that helps someone get to their best performance.”
COVID-19 adds complexity
The pandemic is adding an additional layer of complexity to the medical care of all high-performance Olympic athletes. In the competitive season leading up to the Olympics, athletes have been required to submit daily health checks, wear masks while training and get weekly rapid testing.
Lun says, “For athletes who became infected with COVID, we have been carefully monitoring their recovery and following a graduated return to training protocol to ensure a safe return to competition.” Moreover, the Olympics will operate as a “closed loop” to maintain a safe environment for participants.
The Beijing Winter Olympics run from Feb. 4 to 20. Follow along with Lun's journey on his blog.
Events will be livestreamed on cbc.ca. Check out the CBC's events schedule and results.
About the University Sport Medicine Centre in the Faculty of Kinesiology
The Sport Medicine Centre opened just prior to the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, when it first served as the Olympic Village medical clinic. We opened our doors to all athletes and the Calgary community in 1989 and have always been proud of our Olympic roots. The Sport Medicine Centre's mission is to be a world leader in advancing the art and science of sport medicine through excellent programs of education, research and patient care.