September 2017
Dr Kevyn Hernandez
ACSEP Registrar


The Under 23 Rowing Australia team successfully represented the nation a few weeks ago at the world championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. As a new registrar in the program it proved to be a memorable experience on multiple fronts.

Prior to attending the competition athletes were taken to the province of Varese in Italy. This was my first encounter with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) European Training Centre (ETC). This training centre provides support for athletes representing Australia in multiple sports including cycling, kayaking, swimming water polo and rowing to name a few. Located beside two different rowing courses it was the perfect location for our team to do the final preparations before the competition.

The ETC houses 25 ensuite bedrooms, dining facilities, strength and condition gym, a sport science laboratory, recovery pools and of course consulting rooms (physiotherapy and medical). Again, the list of items I can name here is extensive. The ability for our athletes to stay at the ETC and train prior to the competition was irreplaceable. Speaking later with other countries in the competition it was apparent that we are very fortunate as a nation to have such facilities at the other side of the world.

Arriving into Plovdiv, Bulgaria showed a very diverse landscape with old Eastern European buildings situated side by side with new modern structures. Sprinkled in different parts of Plovdiv were old ruins dating back over 2000 years! Plovdiv is built over some of the oldest human establishments known in Europe… some areas dating back to 6000 years. Some ruins had indeed been excavated and restored; however, many more remained untouched and open to the public. Indeed, business owners and employees parked their cars and walked beside these ancient ruins on a daily basis.

The opening ceremony was situated in the ancient theatre located in the heart of Plovdiv’s Old Town. This theatre was accidently discovered after a landslide in the 1970s and has now been restored. The atmosphere was vibrant with enthusiasm as 845 athletes from 54 nations united in a competition that would inevitably see tears, smiles, records being broken and of course memories.

Against this backdrop of emotions and high stakes it was challenging but very rewarding to be part of the medical team that helped our Aussie athletes achieve their goals. Armed with the help of an intelligent physiotherapist and a committed massage therapist we turned a hotel room in Plovdiv into our own “medical centre.” Prior to the trip I liaised with senior ASCEP registrars (Dr Pip Inge, Dr Rachel Harris) and an ACSEP fellow (Dr Charles Howse- who travels with the senior rowing team) to put together our U23 medical kit. The end result was a 23kg bag filled with various medications and treatment options that proved to be invaluable overseas.

Some of the immediate challenges when travelling with a sporting team presented very early such as common colds and blisters… lots of blisters. Other challenges were somewhat underestimated, such as home sickness or finding a place to privately speak with an athlete; particularly when our make shift “medical centre” was full with others receiving treatment.  

Overall Plovdiv was an interesting and unique experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The opportunity to practice medicine at an elite event overseas provides challenges that are not commonly seen at home in the safety of clinics or hospitals. There is no doubt in my mind that the ASCEP program provides skills and opportunities that are simply not possible in any other area of medicine. 

Dr Kevyn Hernandez is a 1st year ACSEP registrar practicing at the Sports and Arthritis Clinic (SPARC) in Adelaide, South Australia. Kevyn completed a Bachelors in Human Movement followed by a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology in Toronto, Canada. He attained his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Flinders University, Adelaide in 2012. With extensive experience in emergency and orthopaedic surgery Kevyn has a keen interest in acute as well as chronic musculoskeletal injuries. His areas of research include shoulder pathologies as well as paediatric injuries. In addition to working with the U23 Rowing Australia team, he is also the medical officer for the North Adelaide Roosters in the SANFL (league, reserves and women’s team).