21 March 2018


Northern Ireland’s athletes are set to get a helping hand in their quest to get ready for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia – from Kiwis.

Or, precisely, two kiwi fruits per day, after nutritionists at the Sport NI Sports Institute learnt that it may help the 13-strong track and field team hit the ground running Down Under by busting jet lag and speeding up their adjustment to the 10-hour time difference.

It has led to a sponsorship deal between Athletics Northern Ireland and New Zealand-based producer Seeka who are shipping a specially-picked order of kiwis to the team’s training base on the Gold Coast ahead of their arrival on Wednesday (21st). 

And Lorna CookePerformance Nutritionist at the Sports Institute, believes it could give Northern Ireland’s competitors a head start in their build-up to the Games which begin on April 4.

“There is anecdotal evidence to show that consuming two kiwis one hour before bedtime may improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency,” Cooke said. 

“A study back in 2011 was carried out in adults with self–reported sleep disturbances and concluded that the antioxidants and serotonin present in kiwi fruit may be causing the beneficial sleep effects.”

With the Northern Irish athletes and coaches setting up camp at Somerset College, just a few kilometres from the stadium which will stage the track and field events at Gold Coast 2018, plans are in place to give performers - including 2016 European 1,500m bronze medallist Ciara Mageean – the right conditions to reach their peak come Games time, with extra advice on sleep times and what to eat, and when.

“There are a number of foods that may improve sleep quality including oats, walnuts, cherries etc.,” Cooke added. “The use of kiwis by Athletics NI at the Commonwealth Games is an innovative approach, not only possibly improving athlete’s sleep and recovery when at Gold Coast 2018, but also ensuring a good intake of antioxidants and fibre which also have other beneficial properties for health." 

And although New Zealand are among Team NI’s rivals at the event, there will be one pocket of Kiwis hoping to see Northern Ireland hit the heights in Australia.

"We are excited about the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Seeka is proud to supply the NI team fresh fruit to help them in their endeavours,” said Seeka’s marketing manager Kim McFadden. 

“Athletes require a healthy, nutritious diet to aid their performance and produce packed with goodness like Seeka's kiwifruit, pears and summer fruit delivers natural energy. Best of luck to the athletes."