Paralympic wheelchair tennis star Kay Forshaw went to Thompsons Solicitors after she sustained a spinal injury. Thompsons Solicitors fought her case and secured the compensation she needed to help her pursue a new career as an athlete. Here, she tells her story…
After becoming spinally injured I decided it would be a good idea to take up some kind of sport as a way of keeping fit. After all, I was thinking of doing this before I became injured, so why should this be any different? I had tried a little bit of tennis at the spinal unit I was at and remembered quite enjoying it. So, I started playing wheelchair tennis locally and decided to get some coaching in order to learn more about the game.
Little did I know that years later I would be on the World Class Performance programme with my sights on Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. I went from playing a couple of hours a week and playing some events representing Great Britain as a reserve to becoming a full time athlete.
I decided to take the big step of quitting my job so that I could play tennis full time, just for a year to see how it would go. So, I took a year out and played wheelchair tennis tournaments in the UK and abroad. My tournament results gave me a world ranking which rose steadily during that year. At this point I became a full time athlete on the lottery funded world class performance programme. I knew this was an amazing opportunity.
This was my new job and what a job it was! I remember watching coverage of the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games and being inspired by what I saw. They were super human to me. I wondered how they got themselves to that level of peak performance and felt both daunted and excited by the task ahead of me. I knew that if I was going to do it I would leave no stone unturned. There would be no “what ifs”.
My training changed dramatically at this time. It wasn’t simply just about hitting a ball on a tennis court; there were many more aspects to the game than that. The two big ones that spring to mind were strength and conditioning and sports psychology. They had a huge impact on my performance together with spending more time on court. My tournament programme increased and I travelled much further afield; spending a month of the winter in Australia and New Zealand and doing some back to back tournaments in the States. Travelling became a big part of the job, especially the year before the Paralympic Games. This was a hectic year and more pressurised because tournament results and rankings determined your eligibility to the Paralympic Games.
Fortunately, with my ranking at a steady 13 in the world, I was going to the Games!
The Paralympic Games experience was incredible. It is very different from any other tournament; right from your arrival you are given the VIP treatment and fast tracked in a special Olympic lane and whisked off to the Olympic village.