26 April 2019
Since Koroibos won the stadion race of approximately 600 feet long at the first ancient Olympic Games in the year 776 BC, athletes and coaches have been looking for something to give them a competitive edge over their rivals.
An ergogenic aid is a performance enhancer, anything that gives you a mental or physical edge while exercising or competing. This can range from caffeine and sports drinks to illegal substances. There are a variety of both safe and harmful ergogenic aids.
These days all athletes are constantly monitored for the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) but this was not always the case. But back in 1904, during the Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Thomas Hicks of the United States took the gold medal in the marathon race through a cocktail drink that included strychnine and brandy.
The US champion was at the point of collapse at the 16 mile point but was given a mixture of water from a car radiator, strychnine and brandy that saw him to the finish albeit at death’s door. As soon as he crossed the line, he was rushed to the hospital, where he spent 24 hours on the danger list. Thankfully, he recovered and lived to a ripe old age.
The hunt for the perfect ergogenic aid has continued since then with Belfast man Edward O’Gorman being the latest to come up with his own product. With a PhD from ETH Zurich on Creatine’s use in medicine, he left academia to work in the patent profession in Belfast and Kilkenny for the last 10 years.
He came up with the idea for the Creatine Energy Gel while training for the 2010 Dublin Marathon, and started R&D at that time, while self-employed.
“I was a typical inventor who thought his invention was the only one worth looking at by anyone and it was of course worth millions!,” explains O’Gorman. “Over the last six years, I have been testing different formulations, working with industrial partners, charlatans and time-wasters. I have done two full distance Ironman events near Barcelona, during which I have used different versions of my products.”
O’Gorman, assisted by Belfast entrepreneur Paul Carlin, has now put the finished product on the market and is keen to see the reaction from endurance athletes both local and further afield. His principal concern is Brexit as the energy gel, although developed in Ireland, is made in Europe. That would entail manufacture being split and some probably done in England, meaning that it would be a little more expensive to buy the product in Northern Ireland.