SCI Superstar: Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid, affectionately known as “Gio,” is the new darling of the wheelchair tennis world. Last weekend he made history winning the first ever men’s singles title held at Wimbledon, a lifelong dream achieved at only 24 years old. He also won the Australian Open this year. He is on fire.

After Reid became paralyzed at age 13, wheelchair tennis was the therapeutic outlet Reid needed. Now its 11 years later and his therapy has become so much more – a life’s passion, and a ticket to stardom. Read on for the backstory of one of Scotland’s most exciting sports stars.

Why he’s fearless

While growing up in Alexandria, Scotland, Reid loved sports. Soccer was something he loved to watch (a lifelong Rangers FC fan). Tennis however was his passion. He started playing the age of 6. But his whole life changed when he was 13 years old and he began to lose feeling in his legs over a two-day period. When his legs gave way underneath him, he was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis.

A disease that makes the spinal cord swell, it permanently paralyzed Reid from the thighs down. Amazingly, he turned to wheelchair tennis straightaway after returning home from the hospital. In April 2005, only six weeks after returning home, he won his first ever wheelchair tennis title – the B Division Singles at the Glasgow Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. “I didn’t even know wheelchair tennis existed before my injury,” he admits.

Within a couple of years his skill-level skyrocketed. In 2007, he became Britain’s youngest National champion in wheelchair tennis at the age of 15 and at age 16, he was invited to be on the UK Paralympic Tennis team for the Beijing 2008 Summer Paralympics. He played again at the London Paralympics in 2012 where he reached the quarterfinals in singles.

That was four years ago and Reid just keeps getting better. He’s played in the big three – French Open, U.S. Open and the Australian Open since 2013 (and won the French Open and U.S. Open last year). Huge wins for sure, but this year has proven to be the year of dreams coming true.

What’s next?

In January 2016, Reid traveled to Australia for the Australian Open, a title that had eluded him since 2013 and this year he won, securing the first grand slam singles final of his tennis career. Next, he played the French Open where he was a runner up.

But last weekend, on July 10th, 2016, history was made when Reid won the first ever Wimbledon singles match for men’s wheelchair tennis (only wheelchair doubles had been played at Wimbledon until this point), beating out Sweden’s Stefan Olson 6-1 6-4. He also won the wheelchair doubles competition this year at Wimbledon with his partner Alfie Hewitt.

Gordon celebrating his win at Wimbledon 2016

And the court was full, proving Reid’s belief that wheelchair tennis is becoming more respected in the able-bodied world. “I think there’s a mutual respect. I’ve seen the change from the first times I played in Grand Slams three or four years ago,” he told the BBC.

Basking in the light he deserves, Reid truly is accomplishing what he set out to do. He’s always had two goals – to inspire kids with disabilities to play tennis and to show the able-bodied world that athletes with disabilities are to be reckoned with. Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what Reid accomplishes at the Rio Paralympics later this summer.

Do you play wheelchair tennis? How did this sport help you recover?

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Watch the Videos!

2016, Day 13 Wimbledon Highlights, Gordon Reid vs Stefan Olsson

INTERVIEW | Gordon Reid | 06 February 2016 

Andy Murray training alongside Gordon Reid – 19 Feb 2016

Flashback: Gordon Reid: the rising star of wheelchair tennis (featured at age 19)

Staying Cool with a Spinal Cord Injury

Summer is heating up across the United States and our founder’s (Josh Basile) trip to Cuba last month, where it was 90 and sunny every day, has given us some great perspective on the important topic of staying cool after a spinal cord injury. If your injury is at the T4 level or above, and is complete your body is likely unable to sweat below your level of injury. Sometimes quadriplegics cannot even sweat above their level of injury even though they can sweat during an autonomic dysreflexia episode. This can lead to overheating and in extreme situations to a deadly heat stroke.

When you can’t sweat properly and you’re in a hot and humid environment – you will begin to overheat. This is because the signals from the skin detecting heat can no longer be sent to the brain, which if it could it would tell the skin to start sweating to help cool down the body. This term is called Poikilothermia and it’s like being cold-blooded.

Staying cool and preventing your core body temp moving past 98.6 is the name of the game. Ice packs draped around the neck, cooling towels, hand-held/wheelchair mounted fans, and water misters are all great tools to stay cool. AC and home fans of course are essential tools in this fight but if you must leave your home, car or other air-conditioned spots and venture out into the hot sun, you can’t go wrong with any of these cooling methods.

             Neck Icepack                                                                  Cooling Snap Towels

                                        

 

 

   Clip-On Battery-Powered Fan                                                   Pump Sprayer

                                 

A quadriplegic friendly and very effective handheld mister is what our founder used while in Cuba (and with two other men with spinal cord injuries). Called the Flo-Master, this personal handheld mister is a favorite among quadriplegic rugby athletes for staying cool while on the court, especially if they’re playing outside and are in direct sunlight. It mimics sweat like a champ and you can add lots of ice.

Costing only $7, the Flo-Master was a lifesaver in Florida and Cuba for the guys. “We all started feeling the effects of the heat while in Key West. Before departing from Cuba we made a grocery run, and next to the grocery store was a Home Depot. Robby (quadriplegic) and Bruce swung by and made one of the best purchases ever,” Josh says. “They bought two of these spray bottles that Robby and his quad rugby teammates use all the time.”

Robby Beckman using the Flo-Master on the Impossible Dream catamaran

And they did the two other essentials as well – staying hydrated and out of direct sunlight with the help of an umbrella. “Staying cool involved the sprayer and drinking lots of water and umbrellas. I broke out the umbrella all the time,” says Josh. “I used the sprayer on the boat and in my cabin where there was no air-conditioning too.” Purchase the Flo-Master or others like it here

Whether you’re going to Cuba or anywhere else where the weather is over 90°, just know that it can be done if you have a spinal cord injury as long as you’re prepared with the right game plan and tools.

Learn more about how a SCI affects your body’s temperature from Apparalyzed.com

How do you stay cool when you don’t have access to AC? Share your favorite in the comments below