Dr Richard Budgett OBE (Selwyn 1977)
Dr Richard Budgett spent his time at Cambridge studying medicine and rowing for Selwyn. “I was thrown out of the Blue Boat squad in my final year, when it was cut down to the last 20,” he says. “I wasn’t too upset, as it meant I could go on the Oxbridge ski trip that year!” Nor was this the end of his rowing career. After graduating, he won a bronze medal in the coxed pairs at the world championships in 1981, and three years later won an Olympic gold medal in the men’s coxed four in Los Angeles.
“Sport and exercise medicine was a natural follow-on from that,” he says. “I started with research into underperformance and fatigue in 1986 at the Olympic Medical Centre in Northwick Park Hospital, where I was doing my GP training.” His research into overtraining has led to the identification of unexplained underperformance syndrome, a common problem affecting 10 to 20 per cent of elite endurance athletes. “My most important piece of kit isn’t really kit, but people. Our volunteers make the medical service at the Olympics a success, no matter what kit they have or problems they might face.”
After completing his training in sports medicine in 1989, Richard began working as a medical officer for the British Olympic Medical Institute. He was team doctor for the British Bobsleigh Team at the Winter Olympic Games in 1992 and 1994, and has been Chief Medical Officer for Team GB at all Summer and Winter Olympic Games from 1996 to 2006. He was a member of the IOC Medical Commission in 2008 and 2010.
At London 2012, Richard will take on even greater responsibilities as Chief Medical Officer for the entire Olympic and Paralympic Games. “Being appointed to this role has made me feel like a poacher turned gamekeeper,” he says. “As team doctor at eight previous Games, I am used to harassing the organisers for medical facilities, access, resources and services for my team. I also always insist on an anti-doping service that is efficient, consistent and minimises disruption to athletes. Now I have to make sure that all of this is in place for the visiting teams and team doctors by the time they arrive in London!”