When badminton coach Sue Jarvis suffered a life-changing accident and was told she would never walk again, she feared the worst.
Sue cherished the energetic lifestyle that she led before her accident – not only working as a full-time badminton coach at Circus & Barton Acorn Badminton Club, but also delivering disability sport sessions to young people under the age of 25 on a regular basis.
A normal week would see her attend line-dancing classes, rally at the badminton net a couple of times and also go swimming or work out at the gym. She did as much as her health would allow, despite being a chronic asthmatic.
One of the hardest challenges that Sue had to face in the aftermath of her accident was coming to terms – both physically and emotionally – with the unexpected turn her life had taken, which included the challenge of adapting to life in a wheelchair.
Sue never thought she would one day end up applying the skills she had taught disabled students to herself, but as the realisation dawned upon her she grew physically stronger and was determined to get back playing competitive badminton - the sport that she loved.
“I decided to have a 'little hit' at a No Strings session. At this point I was just using a spare sports chair, which was not built specifically for me so this was also causing problems,” she said.
“But it was when I got my own sports chair that things really started to take off. I was not only learning how to play from a chair, but I was adapting my game to hitting shots that can be played from a wheelchair. It was a big challenge.”
Sue had to start from the basics – from learning how to move her wheelchair to avoiding blisters when playing on court.
Things progressed slowly at first, but having built up her confidence at the No Strings session, she then approached her club and asked if she could play competitively, and got the breakthrough she needed.
Having successfully played under non-disabled rules at her club, Sue’s progression back on the court continued – going from strength to strength and when she was offered the chance to play in a ladies match with three other women, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I had settled in my mind that if I got into double figures I would be very happy, however I came away having won matches and I can’t even begin to explain how it felt,” she added.
“One of the women commented to me that she wasn’t even aware that I was in a wheelchair when she was playing with me.”
The incredible support that Sue has received on her road to recovery has been overwhelming and she is indebted to those who have played encouraging roles in nurturing her back into leading an active lifestyle – something she never thought would be possible.
“I’d particularly like to thank Zoe Hills, full time badminton coach and junior county coach who has spent endless hours hitting shuttles to me,” she concluded.
“My thanks must also go to John Chow who runs the No Strings sessions at Torbay Leisure Centre for suggesting that I went along to the sessions – and for offering so much support.
“There are of course many others who have helped and I wouldn't be where I am today without any of them."
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