Five minutes with….James Shaw
We asked British Tennis player, and Quad Singles and Doubles Champion, James Shaw his thoughts ahead of Rio 2016. James is aspiring to compete in the 2020 Games.
- Which GB players should we be looking out for at Rio? These three British players have great chances of winning medals in singles and/or doubles:
Gordon Reid, Men’s 6 time grand slam winner, including this year’s singles and doubles Wimbledon championship, and sits 3rd place in the world.
Jordanne Whiley, Women’s 9 time grand slam winner, and London 2012 bronze medal winner, and also sits 3rd in the world.
Andy Lapthorne, Quad’s 5 time grand slam winner, and London 2012 silver medal winner, and sits 4th in the world.
- Which are the countries to watch out for in the tennis? The men’s the race for gold is wide open, with the two time gold medal winner Shingo Kunieda JPN trying to get back to full fitness before Rio after a recent injury. So France with Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer, Britain with Gordon Reid, and Belgium with Joachim Gerard who currently make up the top 4 will all be eyeing up the gold medal. The Dutch demolition of the Paralympic women’s draw is set to continue again, even without Esther Vergeer who won 42 grand slam titles in a career seeing her being undefeated for 10 years, before retiring after London 2012; with four of the top 10 women’s players currently being Dutch, and Jiske Griffeon NED currently holding the number one spot, with her compatriot Aniek Van Koot in 4th. Jordanne Whiley GBR, and Yui Kamiji JPN who make up the rest of the top 4 will surely be thinking they can grab the gold instead. Finally in the quads, it looks like there’s only one place the singles Gold will go, and that’s Dylan Alcott of Australia, as he has only lost one singles match all year. David Wagner USA, Lucas Sithole RSA, and Andy Lapthorne will surely be on his heels going for a medal themselves. In the doubles the British and Australian pairs will be the most likely pairs to stop the American pair of David Wagner, and Nick Taylor winning their fourth straight doubles gold medal.
- What is your most memorable Paralympic sporting moment? For me it was going to watch the wheelchair tennis at filled stadiums designed specific for wheelchair tennis at Eton Manor. For me having full stadiums where people were paying to specifically see a Paralympic sport, which was also the one I compete in, was just incredible, and showed Paralympic sport was growing. Ever since London 2012 people seem more interested in Paralympic sport as I get a lot more people asking me questions about my sport, and also a lot of them already have a good knowledge about the athletes that compete, helped by the growing publicity of the sports.
- What or who inspired you in your sporting career? I’ve always been keen to do sport and keep fit, after seeing my Dad at an early age running half- marathons, and going to the gym, so I used to swim as a child, play a bit of tennis, and watch lots of football including my team Nottingham Forest. I always wanted to be a footballer after watching Nottingham Forest, so would play as a goalkeeper on my knees with friends and family. I obviously wouldn’t be able to compete as a footballer, but at the age of 12 I saw Jayant Mistry who was the Wimbledon Champion in wheelchair tennis, and I was excited as in that moment I saw a sport I could potentially one day compete in, and it made me want to continue with my tennis, play more, and dream of one day being on the Great Britain team like him.
- What are you most looking forward to about the Paralympics Rio? I’m looking forward to going to watch as I am part of the BPA Inspiration programme. Watching London 2012 on the TV was incredible so I can’t imagine what it’ll be like to be there in Rio 2016, and hopefully compete and win a medal in Tokyo 2020!