The osteopath on his way to third Olympics

21 October 2011  ..........   Leeds osteopath David Annett at the West Point Practice, Wellington Street.
21 October 2011 .......... Leeds osteopath David Annett at the West Point Practice, Wellington Street.

He’s usually treating people in the district who suffer from back pain, stiff necks, strains and aching muscles - but David Annett’s healing skills are currently serving some of Britain’s Olympic athletes.

The sports osteopath, who runs the Central Harrogate Osteopathy & Sports Injury Clinic, has been working with the British modern pentathlon team for the last ten years.

He has spent time with the athletes at their international competitions and training camps as they prepare for the gruelling competition - comprising fencing, swimming, show jumping, running and shooting - which begins on Saturday.

Due to the diverse nature of the five sports the athletes have to compete in, injuries are common.

“I have seen some horrific riding injuries, ” he said.

“One competitor broke both her wrists falling off a horse. Fencing is really hard on the ankles and feet, and shooting causes a lot of shoulder problems.

“It is important to try to keep the athletes really fit and healthy.”

The former Harrogate Grammar School pupil returned to the town this week after working with the athletes at their altitude training camp in Font Romeu in the Pyrenees, and was due to join them in London today as they prepare for this weekend’s action.

David, 44, retrained to be an osteopath through a five-year course when he was 27. Before that, he did ergonomics, working in product design and workplace-related projects for Royal Mail. He now combines the knowledge he gained from this work with being an osteopath.

“I’ve never been happier,” he said. “I didn’t really plan it that way but it means I get some variety.”

David spent a decade practising in central London, where he treated clients including rap stars, West End actors and circus performers. In between, he was helping to guide athletes through the Manchester Commonwealth Games as well as two separate Olympic campaigns which saw the modern pentathlon team bring home silver and bronze medals.

But his young family, local pride and love of rugby brought him back to Harrogate.

“I grew up here so I know the quality of life – it’s just fantastic. We’ve just started a family and I wanted them to have the same,” he said.

David moved back from London last year and set up business in Harrogate. He now lives in the town with his wife and two young children.

And having captained both Harrogate Grammar School and Harrogate RUFC, as well as representing Yorkshire Schools and Colts, David is keen to get involved with teams and athletes in the Harrogate area. He also runs a Leeds clinic, the West Point Practice, working alongside Vicky Rossington, the physiotherapist for the Yorkshire Rugby team.

But right now, he is looking forward to the pentathlon competition in London this weekend.

“This is my third Olympic campaign with the squad and they are all in great shape and looking forward to performing in London,” he said.

“My job is to treat any injuries and ensure the athletes recover from their gruelling training programme with sports massage and stretching. Mo Farah was up at the centre while we were there, so hopefully the pentathletes will follow in his footsteps and provide medals for Team GB in London.”

He said the team was hopeful of success, with the British modern pentathlon women having won medals at the last three games, and Mhairi Spence and Samantha Murray bringing home gold and bronze at the World Championships in May.

He added: “The men are also in great shape and both Nick Woodbridge and Sam Weale have had the experience of competing in Beijing.”