"Wheelchair sports gave me back something I thought I'd lost forever" - and interview with Ryan Macdonald

Blackwood’s Annual General Meeting will soon be taking place in Inverclyde National Sports Training Centre with the theme for day centred on healthy living and (you guessed it) sports.

We’re very lucky to have loads of great guests lined up to join us and enhance what is set to be a great day and I caught up with one of them. Ryan Macdonald works for Euan’s Guide and has been a massive sports enthusiast his entire life.

 

“Even as a kid” he says, “I woke up playing sports and went to bed playing sports”. However, Ryan’s life was turned on its head one day in a way that threatened to stop him doing what he loves. “I was living in America and working as a sports coordinator. Whilst I was out jogging I was bitten by a tic which somehow resulted in me needing the use of a wheelchair.”

“At that time, before my mobility was reduced, last thing at night I’d be playing tennis against my friends. First thing in the morning I’d be out jogging, then I’d be playing basketball. Pretty much anything that had a winner and a loser. So having reduced mobility and not being able to play sports took a huge toll and definitely made a huge difference.”

 

The loss of mobility was neither complete nor instant and instead Ryan’s ability to carry on as before was slowly compromised as it became harder and harder for him to participate in his favourite sports. “The last sport that I could play was golf, so I was dragging myself around a golf course with a golf buggy and my crutch in one hand. Eventually I was tearing the golf course up because my trolley was knocking against the ground and I was falling on the green. As it got worse eventually I had to give it up.”

 

By this point he’d all but resigned himself to believing he simply would not be able to get involved in sports ever again. Wheelchair sports, he explains, was initially not something he really understood or expected much from. “I’d heard people mention wheelchair sports but I didn’t imagine it would be anything elite. There was nothing like the Paralympics on TV at the time so I had never seen wheelchair sports. Then My dad and my friend sort of tricked me into going along to a session. I didn’t know where we were going. The minute I found wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis everything changed.”

He was back where he belonged.

Interestingly Ryan mentions that his skills as a tennis player has actually improved dramatically since he started playing from a wheelchair. He now regularly beats his brother (who plays him standing) at the sport.

 “I’ve played wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair badminton, Paragolf… My personal identity was based around being an athlete and a competitor. Everything in my life was based around sports. Wheelchair sports gave me something back that I thought I’d lost forever. I thought I would never get that team aspect back.”

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