Noakes gets top honour for sports science excellence

03 November 2014 | Story by Newsroom

UCT Professor of Sports Science Tim Noakes has been awarded the prestigious South Africa Medal (Gold) by the Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3) for his work in sports science.

The medal is awarded annually to a person who has contributed to the advancement of science, in Noakes' case, sports sciences. It is one of the highest awards to a scientist in Southern Africa.

"Professor Noakes' contribution to science in and for South Africa has been recognised internationally," said UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Danie Visser.

"He is an A1-rated scientist with over 14 000 citations, and has authored or co-authored over 500 internationally peer-reviewed, indexed articles and more than 80 book chapters. His international stature is reflected by his past and on-going involvement with 17 editorial boards for international, peer-reviewed journals," added Visser.

It was through Noakes' vision that the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine was founded. He is the co-founder and driving force behind the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, the development of which has stimulated the growth of similar research- and teaching-related facilities or groups at several South African tertiary institutions.

He is the recipient of numerous prestigious international and national awards, including the 2008 award from the South African President of the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) for "excellent contribution to the field of sport and the science of physical exercise".

In recognition of his work on fluid ingestion during endurance sport, and his other contributions in the field of Sports Medicine, in 2009 Noakes was awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Marathon Sports Medicine Research Award, on behalf of the International Marathon Medical Directors Association. In 2012, he received the National Research Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. His early work on the central governor theory of fatigue during exercise has resulted in a remarkable growth of research and scientific enquiry in what was a previously unexplored focus in the discipline.

"Professor Noakes is nationally and internationally recognised as the force or impetus behind the growth and acceptance of the sports sciences in South Africa and indirectly to the growth of biokinetics and sports medicine," said Professor Wim de Villiers, dean of the health sciences faculty.

"The faculty is very proud of this latest acknowledgement of his contribution to the field."

Over and above his peer-reviewed contributions to science and medicine, Noakes has made an enormous impact with respect to research translation, on a global platform – his book, Lore of Running is recognised globally as the 'bible' of running.

He has popularised the value of sports science for the benefit of all South Africans, not only those with special athletic abilities. His three books – Lore of Running, Rugby without Risk and Bob Woolmer's Art and Science of Cricket (with Bob Woolmer) – have addressed three of the most popular South African sports. In addition, his recently release scientific autobiography, Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a Career, has become a best-seller and is now in its second edition (within six months of publication). It has been nominated as an entrant for the Allan Paton Book Award for South African non-fiction.

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