Wednesday, 15 April 2020 11:19

Gordon looks to future

Written by Marshall Thomas

HELENSBURGH'S reigning Paralympic champion Gordon Reid has hailed the support of the LTA as he and fellow players on the GB Wheelchair Tennis World Class Performance Programme focus on future goals during the coronavirus lockdown.

Looking towards the rescheduled Tokyo Paralympics in August 2021, the 28-year-old world no.5 said: “The LTA have been great in providing us with equipment and support so we can continue training at home for as long as we need to.

"I’ve been sent a set of rollers and have my tennis chair set up on those so I can do my cardio. And then there’s a pull-up bar and FK Pro suspension cable kit, so I can do quite a lot of exercises on that too.

“Between Alex Cockram, our LTA strength and conditioning coach, and Claire McDonald, my own personal strength and conditioning adviser for the last 12 years, they have devised me a programme and I’m getting a lot of great support.

“The best thing, I’m finding, is the rollers. I realise it’s not a cheap bit of equipment to get and it’s something not a lot of people have access to. It gives me chance to work on pushing technique and strength and power.”

Crowned Britain’s first ever Paralympic men’s singles gold medallist in Rio, as well as silver medallist in the men’s doubles alongside Alfie Hewett, Gordon enjoyed the best season of his career four years ago, including his first Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

With Wimbledon and the LTA’s British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships, also originally scheduled for July, now among the cancelled tournaments, he is able to maintain a healthy sense of perspective.

“As British players it’s great when Wimbledon and the British Open come around," he said. "When your favourite event gets cancelled it’s obviously bad news, but it’s not such a big deal compared to what this virus is doing to people, their health and their family members.

"You have to look at it from the bigger perspective and realise that it’s not a big thing to miss a few events when it’s about saving lives.”

Gordon says he has much to be grateful to the NHS for, having acquired the neurological condition transverse myelitis shortly before his 13th birthday.

In the immediate aftermath of the sudden onset of the condition, his friend Gary Peak was a constant at his side, and he was also courtside when Gordon claimed his first Grand Slam singles crown in Melbourne in January 2016.

He said: “Gary’s my flat mate now and he’s also a personal trainer, so that’s great to have someone in that sphere supporting me, too.

"Obviously, the NHS played a big part in my life in my early teens and I’ve got a lot to be grateful to them for, too. My brother Stephen, who’s back home with my parents in Helensburgh, is also a physio for the NHS, so it puts things in perspective.”

With the new 500 days to go landmark for the Tokyo Paralympics, it gives him a focus after the suspension of a season that had started with four successive doubles titles, including his latest Grand Slam title alongside Hewett at the Australian Open. He also reached the men’s singles final at Melbourne Park in January.

He said: It gives me a bit more time to prepare for Tokyo. I felt like I was coming back into some good form and was on an upwards trajectory, but this gives me a bit longer to get a bit higher in the rankings and to peak at the right time.”

Currently, Roland Garros has rescheduled dates for September. Should the event go ahead, it would give Gordon and Alfie, the three-time Wimbledon and US Open champions, the opportunity to try to complete a career Grand Slam of mens doubles titles together. But for now, when not training for future goals, he is adding some more useful skills to his locker.

He added: "I’ve started doing a bit more yoga, which is something I’ve dabbled with in the past, but I can do that a bit more consistently at the moment. I’m also doing some more cooking and trying out some new recipes, so that’s quite fun.”