U.S. Army Capt. Matt Smith, left, World Class Athlete Program, competes in lightweight four rowing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

published on March 15, 2018 - 11:35 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

In an effort to get more out of their workout, the U.S. Rowing Team and Quest Diagnostics have reached out to Fresno State’s kinesiology department as a consultant in the team’s lead-up to the Olympics.

Dr. Luke Pryor, assistant professor at Fresno State, will be studying biomarkers in the blood to get more precise data as to how the Olympic-bound rowing team can improve and yield even more results from their training. The women’s team won gold at the 2016 London Olympics.

“It introduces Fresno State into the conversation of elite athlete performance,” said Pryor. “There are other institutions working with blood biomarkers, but none at the Olympic level, in the team sport of rowing. For Fresno State this is a first and it’s exciting. We’re now shoulder-to-shoulder with leaders in the field.”

Biomarkers in the blood allow researchers to more fully understand how training affects athletes’ biochemistry, hormone levels, immune systems and electrolyte balances. They will take blood samples of the rowers every six weeks and using the data they extract, they will be able to refine and decide what the next six weeks of training should look like.

Few teams in the world have access to the kind of information that the U.S. rowing team is hoping to find and that means that graduate students at Fresno State will get a look that few others in their field are getting.

“Students can learn what the many different biomarkers are and what their functions and roles are in the body,” said Pryor. “They can learn how the body responds appropriately or inappropriately to exercise, and then we can take that information and adjust what we do in the future.”

To help provide resources for the study, Quest Diagnostics will be providing $75,000 to help fund blood biomarker products.

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