June 2024, Articles

Newly appointed HPSNZ physio lead heads Olympic therapy team

With his feet barely under the desk at HPSNZ, newly appointed Head of Physiotherapy Jordan Salesa is off to Paris where he will lead the New Zealand Olympic therapy team as part of the wider health team.

While new to his HPSNZ role, Jordan is certainly no stranger to HP sport and to Olympic Games.

Paris will be Jordan’s seventh Games, the first of which was as physio to the Samoan Olympic team in 2000 followed by stints as a New Zealand Team physio at the five Games since.

Despite being a true veteran of Olympic Games, there is no doubt Jordan’s excitement and pride are as strong as ever.

“My first Games with the New Zealand team was Athens 2004 and I’ve been fortunate to support our athletes at every Olympics since,” says Jordan.

He says the Games experience has changed dramatically in those 20 years.  “Since Athens 2004 and indeed Sydney 2000 with the Samoan team, the professionalism of the organisation has grown massively.

“The approach to providing the best health care for our athletes is more purposeful, planned and at a higher level across all aspects of what we deliver.”

A second key difference Jordan identifies is the increasing societal change and acceptance of the Te Ao Māori journey the New Zealand team is on.  “It is now one of the most important ingredients of a New Zealand team and what is fantastic is that it is athlete led.

“It not only reflects the drive and change within our society but also the young people who are our high performance athletes on this greatest of world stages.”

In an interview ahead of Tokyo 2020, Jordan said he loves the exchange of culture that takes place in the Olympic village when the cameras are off.  “Countries look forward to the New Zealand team performing the haka and waiata and it’s a really special experience the way countries share part of their culture.”

The people, places and culture are probably the elements that make the biggest difference at each Games, all of which are wonderful in their own way says Jordan.

“I’ve loved every one because they represent where you are – how different is China to the South American spirit in Rio.  Paris and the Parisians will bring their own, unique culture to these Games – the French will be French and we will love it for that reason.”

While Jordan will lead the therapy team in Paris, he is part of the core health team led by HPSNZ’s Dr Bruce Hamilton and which includes six doctors, four physios, three massage therapists and a nurse.

“There is a wider health team of about 36 people and includes the health support for various sports especially big team sports who take their own health specialists.”

Jordan Salesa at Tokyo 2020