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NYSI Physiologist - Dr Haresh Suppiah

NYSI Staff haresh.jpg

Have you ever wondered what Dr Haresh Suppiah, NYSI Senior Sport Physiologist, does daily at work?

Q: Can you share with us when you started in NYSI and what sparked your interest in the job.

Haresh: I started work in high performance sport in 2012. I joined NYSI in 2016 and what inspired me to join was that a large part of my doctoral research was working with youth athletes and how sleep influences their performance. 

So, it was quite a natural transition for me from working with youth athletes as part of my research, to then come into high-performance sport as a sport scientist.

Q: Can you summarise your job scope and bring us through a typical day in your job?

Haresh: I think the best part of my job is that there isn’t a very typical day, mainly because of the nature of the athletes that we support and their schedules. A lot of times we work when the athletes are available to train. 

In general, what I tend to do in the early part of the day is a bit of background reading of scientific literature and how to support our athletes with the Sport Science support that is available to us. 

A large part of what I do also pertains to research, so that tends to fill up a good half of my morning. The face-to-face athlete support tends to happen in the afternoons or evenings when the athletes are available. 

Most of the time, the work that I do as a Sport Physiologist pertains to benchmarking of their current fitness levels, providing them with advice or actual support on recovery techniques. Also pertaining to research studies, I may be involved in data collection or the preparation of research grants and proposals.

Q: What is the favourite part of your job?

Haresh: I think there are several. One big part is the work culture and the people I get to work with, not just the staff but the athletes as well. 

I like the social interactions with the athletes, seeing them succeed and even when they don’t, working with them and the coaches and pushing them to the next level. 

Also, the nature of the job is that there are almost no two days that are the same and I think that keeps me on my toes – I’m literally learning new things everyday – I think that’s what gets me out of bed every morning.

Q: Which testing equipment or method do you find the most interesting that most people might not know about?

Haresh: I find data analytics and data science really interesting as a field, and it really supports what I do as a sport scientist. 

The good thing about data is that data doesn’t lie. You basically act upon the data that is provided to you. 

With the availability of the different online courses nowadays, you are able to do analytics today that are completely free, compared to five years ago that you were not able to do unless you had very expensive software. I think that’s been one of the major things that excite me.

Q: How have your studies/input influenced an athlete’s training regime?

Haresh: A lot of my research has been the effects of sleep intervention, either sleep extension or napping interventions, and how that actually influences athlete performance. 

We’ve realised that intuitively, a lot of people think napping would be a very good strategy to counterbalance the lack of sleep. But what we do find is that there is some individualisation in how you actually provide athletes with napping, in terms of the dose and time of day. 

Depending on the sport that you are in, you may actually see a dampening of sport performance before it actually improves. That’s probably one interesting thing that we’ve found from our research.

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to the budding athletes in Singapore?

Haresh: Compared to when I was a youth, athletes these days have a lot more support and athletes also come to us with a very high level of understanding of their bodies and physiology. 

I would encourage them to make full use of whatever resources we can provide and are available to them to get them to where they want to be as athletes.


Dr Haresh conducting a workshop for youth swimmers to explain the importance of recovery and benefits of sleep.


Dr Haresh explaining a test to interns from NYSI.

Watch the full video here: 5tOOvOuMsLA