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The role of the faculty of sports and exercise medicine for public health and elite athlete care
  1. Timothy D Noakes
  1. Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Sports Science of South Africa, Newlands, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Timothy D Noakes, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Sports Science of South Africa, PO Box 115, Newlands 7725, South Africa; timothy.noakes{at}

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It is a great time to be involved in British sports after the remarkable performances of Team GB in the recent Beijing Olympic Games. You do not need to be reminded, although the rest of world must be, that in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, UK athletes—not yet Team GB—garnered just one medal. To progress in 12 years to the current situation, in which your Olympic athletes win more than 40 medals, is an achievement equalled perhaps only by Australia and East Germany in the recent past. Indeed, the evidence I have observed and the mood I encountered suggest that the world has yet to see the peak of this British Olympic success—Team GB has the capacity to improve yet further. In the years to come, it will become apparent that however remarkable your team's performance in the Beijing Olympics, it was relatively pedestrian compared to what lies ahead at the London Olympic Games and beyond.

I must add on a personal note that the success of Team GB is profoundly important for another reason—it makes sceptics like me, who were firmly convinced that success in many Olympic sports is drug-dependent, acknowledge that perhaps we are wrong. The nation that pioneered the special concept of fair play has shown that success in Olympic competition can be achieved without compromising those traditional British values.

Royal college of surgeons: one of the world's greatest citadels of intellectual wisdom

We need also to understand the meaning of the ceremony we are enjoying this afternoon and how it relates to this revitalisation of British sports, for the Royal College of Surgeons is one of the world's greatest citadels of intellectual wisdom applied for the benefit of all the world's peoples. That the college should consider sports medicine and exercise sciences to be sufficiently important to enjoy its patronage is simply astonishing. Those who fought for this recognition for …

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  • Adapted for BJSM from an address to the fellows and members of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK) Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, by Professor Timothy Noakes OMS, MBChB, MD, DSc, FACSM, (hon) FFSEM, 11 September 2009.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.