Jordanne Whiley’s plan to serve up medals in Tokyo
Wheelchair tennis player Jordanne Whiley is determined the Tokyo Games will mark the moment she finally fulfills her Paralympics dream.
The 29-year-old, and her tennis partner, Lucy Shuker, won a bronze medal in the women’s doubles at the London 2012 Paralympics. They repeated the trick 4 years later in Rio, but Jordanne’s bid to win her first medal in the women’s singles ended in the quarter-finals in Brazil when she suffered a broken wrist.
Jordanne said, “I feel I have underachieved at the Paralympics so far. In London I was only 19 – young and inexperienced. In Rio I had quite a bad injury which really hindered what I was able to do. In Tokyo I’ll be older and I’m fit and healthy – I’ve got no excuses.”
Fuelling her desire even further is the fact she is considering retiring from professional tennis after Tokyo. She has recently become a qualified mortgage advisor and she and fellow Paralympian Marc McCarroll are making wedding plans.
If Jordanne does retire after Tokyo it will be the end of an extraordinary career. She has been playing tennis since the age of 3 when her father, Keith – a Paralympian tennis player who won a bronze medal in New York in 1984 – encouraged her to pick up a racquet. At the age of 14 she became Britain’s youngest ever national women’s singles champion in wheelchair tennis. She and her Japanese partner Yui Kamiji have together won a staggering 11 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Like most athletes, Jordanne has had to roll with the punches during the pandemic. She said, “During the first lockdown I had about 3 months where I did absolutely nothing except home gym. But I had no child care at the time [her son Jackson was born in January 2018] so even if I wanted to go and play tennis I couldn’t. I just accepted that – I wasn’t going to try to play some random tennis in my garden.”
Now that training at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton has resumed, Jordanne feels she will be fully prepared for Tokyo. She said, “For me, these Games aren’t really about who’s the best – they’re about who’s adapted the best to the circumstances; who’s been resilient, who’s been mentally strong and managed to keep themselves fit and healthy. In a sense it will mean more to medal in these Games because of what everyone has had to overcome in the past 2 years.”
Jordanne said support made possible by National Lottery players has played an essential part in her career from an early age. She said, “It’s pretty much everything; I wouldn’t have been able to get my feet off the ground without it. My parents had to sacrifice a lot for me when I was younger and when I received funding at the age of 13 it changed the game massively. I was able to have a real training routine, I could afford lessons and I could take a coach with me on tour. It was just invaluable.”
Between 2013-2017 National Lottery players helped provide £337Million to support Britain’s top sportspeople. By playing The National Lottery you continue to help our athletes access the coaches and training facilities they need to be their best as well as allowing them to focus on their sport by covering travel and living expenses.
What would Jordanne say to National Lottery players? She said, “I would say thank you – it means so much to us. I know all the athletes really appreciate it.”
At the 1996 Olympic Games, Great Britain and Northern Ireland finished 36th in the medal table with one gold medal. Then in 1997, National Lottery funding for elite sport began. Prior to the Tokyo 2020 Games, we had won 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals and in the last Games in Rio in 2016 we finished in 2nd place. All this is made possible by you, National Lottery players. When you play a little, you help our athletes a lot.
7th July 2021
Main image credit: Jordanne Whiley, Wimbledon, 2014 – LTA-Getty Images
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