Chip Kelly isn't the only person with an emphasis on sports science over at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, as the Sixers have hired David Martin of the Australian Institute of Sport to be the team's new head of sports science, per Chris Wilson of the Sydney Morning Herald. Martin is an American who, after receiving his PhD in Zoology and Physiology from the University of Wyoming in 1994, spent 21 years working at the AIS in Canberra.
Considering Brett Brown's time coaching in the NBL in Australia and with the Australian national team as both an assistant and head coach at various points over the 1990s and 2000s, it's probable that Martin has some familiarity with Brown, fostering a relationship that would work well with a franchise that wants a clear line of communication from ownership down to the front office and coaching staff.
Martin has experience working with cyclers in Australia, as well as with Olympic-competing martial artists. Regarding his innovative research and techniques in physiology, Martin said:
It's our job to stand on the shoulders of all the giants who came before us and did all the heavy lifting and trailblazing, we've got to keep the dream, spirit and excellence alive. Although the Institute has changed, and it's really rough on some people habituated to the past, you have to keep growing. In elite sport, if you're not moving ahead, someone else is moving ahead of you.
That last line regarding stagnation and trying to move forward a little bit every day to eventually accomplish goals seems like a statement that would come right from the mouth of Sam Hinkie.
With the team already incorporating biometrics in their evaluation and training process, per Pablo S. Torre's profile of Hinkie in ESPN the Mag, it's not surprising that they're taking on a new staff member in that field. When asked about working specifically with this Sixers squad, Martin said:
They want to do some amazing things, they want to give back to the city of Philly and make something the city can be proud of. It's been a long time since the team's been successful.
I really prefer working with struggling teams, that's where Australian cycling was 20 years ago ... there's so much potential. I love that start-up mentality, I like taking the impossible, breaking it down with a team of excited people and saying let's make it possible. That's a real rush for me.
That mindset again fits well with the culture the Sixers have been working to create over the last few years.
That title of "head of sports science" is unofficial. Martin has yet to be listed on the Sixers' front office directory, though no other person has a sports science related title on there except for team physicians. He will have a two-year contract with the Sixers with the ability for him to head back to the AIS after this leave of absence if he wishes.
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