Returning to the tennis court following the birth of her son was a daunting task but the comeback is over for Jordanne Whiley and her quest for Paralympic glory in Tokyo is on, writes Nicola Kenton.
The Wheelchair Tennis player won two bronzes in the women’s doubles with Lucy Shuker at the past two editions of the Paralympics.
However, it was not without its struggles as the pair came back from two match points to get on the podium in 2012 while Whiley broke her wrist during Rio.
The 27-year-old acknowledges she wants her opponents to fear her heading into 2020 and insists she will go all out for success on the Paralympic stage.
“It would mean everything to be in Tokyo because when I had Jackson I didn’t know if I was going to come back or not,” said Whiley, speaking at a Sainsbury’s store in Oxford.
“I didn’t know if my body would allow it because I’ve had so many injuries and also, I didn’t know if I wanted to because I had such a bad time in Rio.
“I was really upset about it for a long time and so to actually get back into that top five and hopefully be going to Tokyo and be up for a medal would just mean even more.
“That’s why it’s so important for me to start 2020 really strong in my tournaments to show my opponents that I’m back because I think at the moment people are aware of me but not scared of me and I need to change.
“I feel if I’m stronger in the mind I can compete better with them because I know my tennis is on par. The comeback is over and now I’m just Jordanne the athlete again who’s going for Tokyo.”
Going into the 2016 Games in Rio, Whiley believed she was in the best shape to perform and secure two medals but it wasn’t to be.
The trauma of her experience in Rio impacted the 27-year-old for a long time but after her comeback she has now climbed back to fifth in the world rankings.
After the birth of her son Jackson in January 2018, Whiley has winning medals at next year’s Games at the forefront of her mind.
“I love it, it’s the whole reason I came back. I feel like I haven’t completed my Paralympic journey – a singles medal is the only thing I don’t have now,” added Whiley, who was helping to promote Sainsbury’s role as longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all.
“I’m so excited for Tokyo, everything from the launch, to the kit to just being on the plane – and I even hate flying – so it’s just incredible and it’s something I will really miss once I’m not in the sport any more.
“In the singles I am really going for gold, I think that’s a realistic target – although I do need to change a few things which I am doing now, I’m addressing that.
“In the doubles I just really don’t want to get another bronze because I’ve got two already so I’m looking to just improve on that and make sure I’m in that gold medal match.”
Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/