By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter

The Altitude Dormitory facility at Aspetar, the most advanced orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital in the region, is one of the largest of its kind in the world that can train up to 50 sports people at a time, according to an official of the centre.
Speaking to Gulf Times, Dr Paul Montgomery, assistant performance manager at the centre, explained: “I am not aware of any other facility such as this where athletes can live at altitude, train at sea level, and obtain the specialist services that Aspetar offers. Hundreds of athletes have received training support here in the past, either as participants in performance training camps, or as members of dedicated research projects and they are all happy and satisfied with the outcome.”
The Aspetar Altitude Dormitory is a purpose-built facility that makes use of an oxygen filtration system to reduce the concentration of oxygen in the air. The rooms can reproduce an altitude range from 500 to 4,500 metres, enabling athletes to adopt a ‘live high, train low’ regime, whereby they can reside in comfort at raised altitudes, while training at sea level. This has the potential to enhance endurance performance by encouraging the body to increase red blood cell production, and therefore also increase oxygen carriage to exercising muscle.
Dr Montgomery said that an athlete can undergo the training according to the needs. “We have 25 rooms, and each room can accommodate two athletes. Thus we can provide training for 50 sports people at a time. Each room has a control unit that can adjust the altitude according to the needs of the athlete, all of which are controlled and monitored from a central control room.
“The Australian swimming team, the South African swimming team, and the French and Welsh Rugby teams, are just some of the prominent squads who have undergone training at the facility this year. In addition there are a number of high profile sport persons who have undergone the same training here,” Dr Montgomery said.
“Athletes have to maximise their exposure for up to 18 hours per day inside the room. This has to continue for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. Their vital signs and oxygen saturation levels are checked on a daily basis by a physiologist. Once the exposure period is completed the athletes will generally travel directly to where the competition is held, so that they can maximise their performance through the exposure they have received.”
The training specialist said that the facility has been very useful for several sports people from Qatar too. “A number of athletes and other sports people from Qatar have undertaken the exposure and training at Aspetar and the dormitory before they embark to other training sites or competition. This has resulted in increased confidence and performance of these people at various competitions,” he added.
Sport bodies that have an agreement with Aspetar or Qatar Olympic Committee can approach Aspetar for availing the training facility.