Dorset Spotlight chats to Lucy Shuker about the success she has achieved playing Wheelchair Tennis for Great Britain.
At age 21, Lucy was in a motorbike accident which left her paralysed from the chest down. The former Hampshire County Badminton player turned her hand to wheelchair tennis whilst at the Salisbury Spinal Unit. Hard work and determination led Lucy to make her Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008. She went on to win the bronze medal with fellow Brit Jordanne Whiley at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Not only has Lucy won more than 100 International singles and double titles, but she is also a five-time Wimbledon doubles finalist and two-time Australian Open doubles finalist.
Lucy plays tennis regularly at the West Hants Tennis Club in Bournemouth and is training hard to bring the gold medal back from the Tokyo Paralympics this summer.
DS: Hi Lucy, Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. How is training going?
Lucy: “Training has been going great, thank you. It has been a difficult year for everyone with COVID, and this changed my ability to train in the normal way, but I feel like I have adapted well and made the best of any opportunity.”
DS: You have had such an astonishing level of success playing wheelchair tennis. There must have been challenges along the way. Where does your determined mindset come from, and what do you do regularly to remain focused on your goals?
Lucy: “Ultimately, I play tennis because I love the sport. I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have a strong team around me, who push and challenge me, so I continue to grow. I have a great Sports Psychologist who I work with regularly, and part of our work is to set myself goals; this was especially important during the lockdown.”
In 2001, Lucy achieved BSc Hons in Science and Management of Exercise and Health – from the University of Surrey.
DS: I saw in 2017, Bournemouth University awarded you with an Honorary Doctorate of Arts? What a fantastic achievement – tell us how this came about?
Lucy: “My Sports Psychologist, Dr Emma Kavanagh, is a lecturer at Bournemouth University. Over the years, we have worked together on several opportunities with the university – such as speaking appearances and community projects. It is great to have formed this link with the university, and I was genuinely extremely humbled when they awarded me with an Honorary Doctorate.”
DS: I am sure that everyone who hears your motivational talk is left feeling inspired. What advice can you give to anyone facing a life-changing event; or ready to embark on a new sporting challenge?
Lucy: “I think we all face challenges through life. I think for anyone that has had an accident, know that you are not alone – there are people, organisations, and charities out there to support you. It is important to remember sometimes it is okay not to be okay and to use the support networks that are available to you.
In terms of embarking on a new sporting challenge or taking up sports, I would always encourage everyone to have a go. Tennis changed my life after my accident and has given me so many incredible opportunities and memories. It helped me to deal with my disability, to cope better every day and build confidence.
The main thing I always say is no matter who you are or what you are doing – it is always important to be your best version, give your best self to what you are doing, have no regrets.”
Dorset Spotlight wishes Lucy the best of luck in her upcoming wheelchair tennis matches at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics; we will be watching and cheering you on from afar.