When thinking of the 2018 highlights from a college perspective, the ECSS Dublin congress stands out as a beacon in a long series of successful congresses. From the moment you walked into the Convention Centre Dublin, you could not fail to be impressed by the level of professionalism and organisation that the annual congress is now recognised for. The 2018 edition was packed with high quality delivery from the outset. The marriage of contemporary and cutting-edge research delivered in a world-class environment that allowed for comfort and ample networking, really put our college on a new platform. The 2018 programme, hosted in such an emblematic and historic city as Dublin, allowed us to set a new Northern European attendance record of 2900.
The Executive Board have been working on a number of enhancements to the annual congress in order to sustain the future of the college. Many of these ideas will become evident across future congresses, but a refinement in Dublin saw the announcement of the top ten YIA oral and mini-oral winners at the YIA reception on Friday evening. The subtle change was that the candidates selected in the top four of the oral competition, were also announced at this event, which gave their success more profile. This change in approach brought the opportunity to really celebrate all winners and gave more time to highlight the achievements of the top four at the final session of the congress. As usual, the final session was followed by a wonderful closing party at Dublin’s iconic Guinness Storehouse. Delegates were welcomed to the party by a vibrant drum band, watched sunset play out over Dublin’s spires from the fantastic rooftop bar and partied long and hard into the night to a live band and DJ.
In addition to this, and in support of our college's vision, Dublin brought together many new discussions and connections around the topic of ‘interdisciplinarity’. Following plenary presentations, the session chairs facilitated discussions aiming to cut across the disciplinary focus of the two speakers. Our new multi- and interdisciplinary stream in the congress programme epitomises the college’s commitment to joining up and advancing knowledge in the sport and exercise sciences. We look forward to seeing this emphasis on interdisciplinarity further develop in Prague and beyond.
During the 2019 Prague congress, we will welcome Professor Erich Müller as the new ECSS President, and say a big thank you to Professor Joan Duda for her contribution as President over the last two years. Joan will then take on the role of ECSS Past President on the Executive Board. We will also express our great appreciation and say farewell to Professor Tim Cable who will end his role as Past President but will remain connected with the ECSS. The focus for the Executive Board beyond Prague will be ensuring the annual congress continues to be THE networking event of the year, creating a platform for young scientists through our successful ECSS Young Investigators Award (YIA), offering a cutting-edge programme of high quality research (both multi- and interdisciplinary), and encouraging new sponsors to become part of the ECSS family.
Many thanks to our 2018 congress hosts, University College Dublin and the Ulster University and congress chairs, Professors Colin Boreham, Giuseppe De Vito and Marie Murphy for the craic! And our sincere thanks to all our presenters and delegates from all over the world for attending and contributing to such a fantastic and memorable event.
Yours in sport science,
The college received the very sad news that on the 10th October 2018 our Patron and close friend, Professor Paavo Komi passed away at his home in Uurainen, Finland. For many of us working in the world of sport and exercise science, the name Komi remains synonymous with the early development of our field. Paavo was one of the pioneers of our young discipline, performing ground breaking work in neuromuscular control and function. His work in characterising and studying the stretch-shortening cycle in muscle, using innovative techniques and approaches, was paradigm shifting, and remains seminal to this day.
After graduating with an MSc in Sport Science from Jyväskylä in 1966, Paavo completed his PhD at Penn State University and returned home to his alma mater in Finland in 1971. Over the following four decades, Paavo built a dynasty of investigation in sport and exercise science that led developments in our scientific domain and created a template that others followed. His prolific research career saw the publication of over 300 papers in international journals at an H-index of 80. Many international researchers and aspiring young researchers were attracted to his beacon of excellence in the arctic circle, in order to establish strong international collaborations or complete their post-graduate training. Paavo mentored several generations of outstanding researchers that have established their own independent and highly successful research teams by following the enquiry-based teaching and learning philosophy that Paavo inspired in them. Paavo’s stewardship, leadership and ripples of influence were therefore instrumental in the development of a discipline that has grown in recognition, reputation and stature within the global higher education sector.
Paavo’s drive, energy and vision was also evident as one of the key founding members of the European College of Sport Science. Together with key like-minded individuals, he worked tirelessly to strategically develop and operationalise the origin of our society in 1995. The very first annual congress was held the following year in Nice with an audience of 450 delegates. The legacy of Paavo’s work in the college is now evidenced by the fact that our annual congress attracts c3000 delegates, from 70+ countries, with a worldwide network of 30,000 individuals. His leadership of ECSS, included serving a dedicated term as President between 1997-1999 and assuming the role of Congress President by twice hosting the annual congress (2000 and 2007) in Jyväskylä.
All these academic and glittering credentials, only tell part of the story. Paavo was a man of strong principles; he was a dedicated teacher and mentor, providing disciplined and insightful direction to his tutees. He was a dedicated and proud family man, devoted to his home which he built with his wife Raija and which was often “open-house” to visitors from around the world. Paavo was a man of great humour, conversation and laughter often sitting with friends and colleagues deep into the night. Paavo was a passionate and incredibly supportive friend of all in sport and exercise science and as Patron of our college we shall miss his smile and insight, but forever remember his vitality, voice and the special light in his eye.
- European College of Sport Science
Read the original obituary by Professor Janne Avela and friends here.