BBC – Wimbledon 2015: How players and fans cope with record heat

July 1, 2015

It’s official: Wimbledon was baking hot.

Hotter than it had ever been, in fact. The temperature in SW19 reached 35.7C on Wednesday, and it even touched 41.2C on Centre Court.

“I was starting to get dizzy out there with the heat hitting me,” said Australia’s 27th seed Bernard Tomic.

Not all the players complained. Some revelled in it – as did most of the sun-baked spectators, who were armed with sun cream, water, shades, hats and even parasols.

BBC Sport analyses the record-breaking heat which sizzled Wimbledon.

Every player would probably answer this question differently – and unfortunately we were unable to poll every single competitor at Wimbledon.

However, Spain’s two-time champion Rafael Nadal had fun in the sun, according to his trainer and uncle Toni Nadal.

“For us, it is good to play with the sun because normally Majorca has lots of sun. Rafa feels good about this type of weather,” he told BBC Sport.

Nadal senior said the unexpected temperatures in south-west London did not change his nephew’s game plan or his hydration techniques before, during or after matches.

How do players prepare for competing in hot weather?

Those players born and raised in warmer climates – including Nadal – have a natural advantage.

Others without that upbringing, like Scotland’s Andy Murray, use warm-weather training in Florida and scientific formulas to prepare their bodies.

Anyone who has played sport – and anyone who has learned basic biology – knows that a human becomes soaked with salty sweat when they are taking part in physical activity.

“The prime thing for tennis players is the need to balance sweat loss by taking on enough fluids so it doesn’t impair their performance,” James Collins, head of nutrition for Arsenal Football Club, told BBC Sport.

“That depends on electrolytes, which control the fluid balance of the body. They are key because they help the body to absorb more fluid in the intestines and retain more.

“The electrolyte content that they take on is absolutely critical. Just taking on water can actually dilute it quickly and won’t hydrate them properly.”

Plenty of amateur sportsmen pop to the shop ahead of a match to stock up on glucose-based drinks and a pack of sugary sweets.

Elite sport stars are much better prepared, but we are not that different. They guzzle energy drinks and neck fruit-flavoured snacks.

“Sports drinks have two needs. One is hydration to take on water and electrolytes, the other is to have carbohydrates to fuel the muscles,” said Collins, who advised England at the 2014 World Cup and has also worked with British Olympians.

“A lot of players take on sweets or gels to replace carbohydrates, but they also have some electrolytes in there.

“All of our national teams now use gels, which are really good and popular because they can be digested quickly. These come in all sorts of flavours – cherry, orange, cola, anything.”

What about afterwards? A pint of lager and a pack of smoky bacon crisps? Not a chance.

“Elite players all have a cooling strategy. Some use ice collars, some use ice jackets – whatever it is, each individual will have practised their cooling strategy.”

Source: Wimbledon 2015: How players and fans cope with record heat


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