Wheelchair tennis star Rob Shaw settles into “new normal”

Canadian Paralympic Committee

April 07, 2020

“I probably take a little more strict procedures when it comes to quarantine''


Rob Shaw was heading towards the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with plenty of steam after he defeated one of the world’s most successful players, David Wagner of the U.S., for the gold medal in wheelchair tennis at the 2019 Parapan Am Games. 

Unfortunately for Shaw, the coronavirus crisis has temporarily put a stick in his wheels, but he is still pushing hard.

“From a training perspective, myself and my support team have a pretty good handle on what we can do from home,’’ said Shaw, 30, in an interview with Benoit Huot. Injured in a diving accident at the age of 21, Shaw is partially paralyzed from the neck down. A tennis coach already, he started playing wheelchair tennis after his accident.

“With the postponement of the Paralympics, that put a lot of athletes at ease to restructure their training blocks.”

While being one of the best in the world in wheelchair tennis, he is also completing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus in Kelowna where he currently resides.  

“Because we do a lot of human behaviour research a lot of our protocols are to analyze behaviour in a face to face setting. So now we’ve changed that to using video conferencing. It’s a little challenging but we’ve gotten a pretty good idea on how to adapt.”

Shaw is originally from North Bay and most of his family still resides in Ontario. He admits that even before the announcement of the postponement of the Games he was already preparing for that eventuality.

“I was working with my team on how to reframe my mindset just so I could prepare for the worst,” he said.

“’When we did get the news, it was a blow but I was able to come to terms a bit faster because I had prepared for it.”

The province of B.C. was initially one of the hardest hit provinces by COVID-19. Shaw is being extra cautious to make sure he stays healthy through this crisis.

“I probably take a little more strict procedures when it comes to quarantine because I know I have a compromised immune function, so for me it’s getting groceries delivered, doing all my training indoors. If I do go outside, I limit to early in the morning or late at night when I know there will be less activity in my building.”

With his commitment to sport and school still strong, it appears Shaw is determined to make it to the top on and off the court no matter what blocks his path.


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