Olympic Park Sports

July 13, 2012

Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre (OPSMC)


In 1986 the Olympic Park Trust called for tenders for a sports medicine centre to be established on the ground floor of the Administration building in the Olympic Park complex. At that time Olympic Park consisted of an athletics track, a greyhound stadium, and the former Olympic pool then known as the Glasshouse which was used for basketball.

Olympic Park in the 60s

At that time the Australian Sports Medicine Federation (ASMF now SMA) was running a sports medicine clinic at the City Baths in Swanston Street

City Baths

The clinic was in financial difficulty so a group of us (Peter Brukner, Fred Better, Peter Harcourt) proposed to ASMF that we would tender for the Olympic Park site then privatise the City Baths clinic and move the practice there.

We were successful in our tender and the clinic opened in February 2007 with ASMF retaining a 10% share in the clinic. The other shareholders included myself, Peter Harcourt, Fred Better and the physiotherapist from the City Baths Mary Kinch who became our first full time practitioner. The Clinic was initially staffed by a number of part time doctors, Mary Kinch and Clive Lipinski (physios), Nick Massaro (massage), Karen Inge (dietitian) and Clare Harding (admin). The clinic grew rapidly and I gave up my general practice in McKinnon and commenced fulltime as Director of the clinic in July 1987.

Fred Better

Some of the doctors in the early years of OPSMC were Fred Better, Chris Bradshaw, Karim Khan, Sue White, Paul Blackman, Andrew Jowett, Karen Holzer, Tim Barbour, Bruce Mitchell and Paul McCrory.

OPSMC has played a major role in training sports physicians on the Australasian College of Sports Physicians training program. Among the registrars who have trained at OPSMC are John Orchard, Sue White, Paul Blackman, Andrew Jowett, Peter Baquie, Greg Hickey, Karen Holzer, Tim Barbour, Bruce Mitchell, Leesa Huguenin, Lorenzo Masci, Greg Harris, Tony Page, Michael Makdissi, Adam Castricum, Neels du Toit, Lari Trease, Drew Slimmon and Ruben Branson

Physios included Mary Kinch, Kay Crossley, Paul Coburn, Craig Bosworth, Henry Wajswelner, Ian MacIndoe, Simon Boag, Dave Sagar, Gary Nicholls, Tony Ward and Anthony Schache.

Mary Kinch

Paul Coburn

Kay Crossley

Simon Boag & Tony Ward

Massage has always been a very successful part of OPSMC and we have had a large number of massage therapists over the years. Masseurs include Nick Massaro, Rob Granter, Leigh Baker, Gerhard Hechenberger, Anne Davies, Narelle Davis, Jo Yeoman-Hare, Maria di Michelle, Lily Chiu, Pablo Tymoszuk, Clare Burrows and Rosalie McLeish

Rob Granter our first Head of Massage with Fred Better and Karim Khan

Jo Yeoman-Hare with friends

Karen Inge was our first dietitian and she was followed by Lorna Garden, Susie Parker, Kylie Andrew, Emma Rippon and Katherine Shone

Jason Agosta joined us as our first podiatrist in 1989 and was subsequently joined by Kathy Harding (van Kuyk), Bec Morarty, Sally Child, Nicki Quigley, James Pope and Ben Holland

Jason Agosta with Kay Crossley and Chris Bradshaw

Sports psychology has been largely carried over the years by Anthony Klarica and Jacqui Louder

Anthony Klarica with Fred Better

We have always had a heavy emphasis on research and OPSMC has made a significant contribution to sports medicine in that area. Some of the areas of research have been:

  • Stress fractures (Karim Khan, Peter Brukner, Kim Bennell)
  • Injury survey (Peter Baquie)
  • Compartment syndrome (Paul Blackman, Larissa Trease, Drew Slimmon))
  • Exercise – induced asthma (Karen Holzer)
  • Anterior knee pain (Kay Crossley)
  • Concussion (Paul McCrory & Michael Makdissi)
  • Biomechanics (Anthony Schache)
  • Knee rehab (Randall Cooper)
  • Dry needling (Leesa Huguenin)

Teaching has always been a prominent part of life at OPSMC. We have run

  • Weekend seminars
  • Current Concepts
  • Friday lunchtimes
  • FC Better Lecture
  • Careers Night
  • Soft Tissue Injury Forum (STIF)

The OPSMC Careers Night has been going for 20 years now and always attracts a large crowd of secondary school students and their parents

Peter Brukner & Lauren Hewitt at the OPSMC Careers night 1999

OPSMC has been at its Olympic Park site now for 15 years. In 1997 we opened another clinic at Albert Park.

This site closed in 2006 and we opened our East Melbourne campus adjacent to the Mercy Hospital in 2007

With the building of the new rectangular stadium now known as AAMI Park at the Olympic Park precinct in 2009, the “white” building which had been the home to OPSMC for 20 years had to be demolished and arrangements were made for OPSMC to move to the new stadium.


…became this

While this…

…became this

And we moved in

Team involvement

OPSMC has always had a strong commitment to servicing elite sporting teams. Soon after we commenced in1987 we entered into a contract with Melbourne Football Club to provide all their medical and physiotherapy services. This was the first time that a multidisciplinary clinic had a contract with a football club, previously it had just been individuals with contracts. Melbourne who had not played finals football for 23 years prior to1987 then embarked on a successful periods, famously losing the 1987 Preliminary Final when Jummy Stynes gave away a 50 metre penalty, and then playing in a losing Grand Final in 1988.

Melbourne had a memorable season in 1987 – OPSMC’s first with the club

We looked after Melbourne for four seasons.

Our AFL contracts have been
Melbourne 1987-90
Richmond 1992 – present
Collingwood 1996 – present
Hawthorn 2004 – present

Plus our doctors are currently working at Geelong and St Kilda.

For a number of years our first AFL premiership involvement proved elusive with a number of heart breaking grand final losses.

Then Chris Bradshaw finally cracked it in as club doctor for the 2007 Geelong premiership

To be followed by our first contracted club Hawthorn in 2008

Then Bradshaw again with Geelong in 2009

Followed by Collingwood in 2010 defeating Tim Barbour’s Saints

And Geelong again in 2011 defeating Collingwood

So the OPSMC drought is well and truly broken

Our practitioners have always been encouraged to become involved with national teams and major championships. National teams staffed by OPSMC practitioners include:

Athletics, Basketball, Swimming, Softball, Baseball, Soccer, Hockey, Rowing, Cycling, Netball, Skiing, Gymnastics

Major games attended by OPSMC staff with national teams include:

Australian/World University Games
Arafura Games
Masters Games
Commonwealth Games
Olympic Games
Winter Olympics

OPSMC practitioners at Atlana Olympics 1996

Not surprisingly we had a huge involvement in the 2000 Sydney Olympics

A number of our practitioners ran with the Olympic torch

Ian Macindoe

Gerhardt Hechenberger

Peter Brukner

And the torch paid a visit to OPSMC with Gus Nossal carrying it

OPSMC practitioners on the Australian team, Sydney 2000

Peter Baquie (bottom left) was team doctor to the gold medal winning Australian mens hockey team in Athens 2004