A North East volunteer at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games will be getting ‘hands on’ when the athletics programme starts in Birmingham, next Tuesday.

Femke van Dreven, who has experience of five previous major games events, has been selected to work among the team of volunteer physiotherapists.

The Durham-based sports physiotherapist will be predominantly based at the Alexander Stadium, home of the athletics events.

Dutch-born, with 30-years’ experience in physiotherapy, she has worked in many sports over the years, including the 1999 Davis Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, where she lived prior to coming to the UK and making Durham her work home for the last 22 years.

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She has since run up a roll call of top events at which she has put her physiotherapy skills to voluntary use.

They include the Olympic Games of 2012 and the World Athletics Championships, in 2017, both in London, the Indoor World Athletics Championships, also in Birmingham, in 2018, the last Commonwealth Games in the UK, in Glasgow, in 2014, and the European Games, in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2018.

She did a ‘recce’ in Birmingham, last weekend, to familiarise herself with the facilities, before she returns to the Second City on Sunday, in time for the athletics’ programme.

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“The host country at all these games is responsible for supplying volunteers.

“There are volunteer nurses, doctors and dentists all based at a poly clinic run by the volunteers.

“There might be something like 500 physiotherapists there in all.

“All the larger teams at the games will have their own team of physios, with some based at the athletics events, so we’ll be assisting them, but some of the smaller countries may not have a physiotherapist with them at all.

“We are usually helping athletes to recover from one performance and helping them to start to prepare for their next event, with things like ice baths and compression sleeves.”

With her experience Ms van Dreven has become used to working with some of the stars of track and field, although she admits being in awe of one well-known athlete.

“It’s awesome being track side watching them perform or even warm up.

“You try not to be star struck, but when Usain Bolt swaggers past, your jaw does drop a little bit.”

Her duties in Birmingham extend to the closing ceremony, at the Alexander Stadium, on August 8, after which she will return to her ‘day job’, at Durham City Physio & Podiatry, in Old Elvet, Durham.

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