Prof Noakes was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1949. As a youngster, he had a keen interest in sport and attended Diocesan College in Cape Town. Following this, he studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and obtained an MBChB degree in 1974, an MD in 1981 and a DSc (Med) in Exercise Science in 2002.
In the early 90s, Noakes teamed up with Morné du Plessis to drive the founding of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA). The Institute was built to provide a facility that would primarily fund research in sports performance. The application of this research would provide sports personnel of all disciplines with the means to improve. Noakes and du Plessis also wanted to use it as a platform to build public interest in the country’s top sports people and build state pride.
Prof Noakes has published more than 750 scientific books and articles. He has been cited more than 16 000 times in scientific literature, has an H-index of 71 and has been rated an A1 scientist by the National Research Foundation of South Africa for a second 5-year term. He has won numerous awards over the years and made himself available on many editorial boards.
He has a passion for running and is still active, running half marathons when he can. He is a devoted husband, father and grandfather and now, in his retirement, is enjoying spending more time with his family.
Cannes Grand Prix Award – 2002
In 2002, Prof Noakes was awarded the International Cannes Grand Prix Award for Research in Medicine and Water for his work on exercise-associated hyponatraemia (EAH). This work is considered one of the 40 most important “persons or events” in the sport of running in the past four decades.
In 2008, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (UK), the first foreigner recognised as such. In 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in recognition of his involvement in the field of Sports and Exercise Medicine
In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Vrije University in Amsterdam. This was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of exercise physiology and sports medicine.
Order of Mapungubwe, Silver
In 2008 he also received the Order of Mapungubwe, Silver, from the President of South Africa for his “excellent contribution in the field of sports and the science of physical exercise”.
Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Research Foundation for his contribution to sports science research.
In 2014 he was honoured to receive the Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3) Gold Medal.