Exclusive: Jordanne Whiley has “unfinished business” with the Paralympic Games
She may have departed Rio with a bronze medal stowed in her baggage, but wheelchair tennis star Jordanne Whiley insists she has plenty of unfinished business as far as the Paralympic Games are concerned.
Third place on the podium in Brazil was Whiley’s second consecutive Paralympic bronze, having also taken glory on the hallowed turf of the All England Club, Wimbledon, four years previously.
It was an achievement she was initially disappointed with – her heart set on reaching the final and adding that elusive gold medal to her bulging collection of silverware.
But playing with a broken wrist is something few could cope with, and makes her accomplishment even more remarkable – something 25-year-old Whiley has come to realise.
She can look back on her time in Rio with pride, but with that golden desire still burning bright.
“It was a disappointing Games for me. In my head, I was going there to win gold and that was a completely realistic goal,” she said.
"I look back now and I think, ‘I didn’t bottle it,’ I wasn’t nervous." Jordanne Whiley
“I was in the best shape of my life, I was peaking at the right time, playing such awesome tennis. But I look back now and I think, ‘I didn’t bottle it,’ I wasn’t nervous.
“It was something completely out of my control and then to play with a broken wrist and get a bronze medal I think is actually cool. There aren’t a lot of athletes who would do that.
“I had anaesthetic injections which only lasted two hours – I had to finish my matches within two hours.
“I had splints, I had tape – I had absolutely everything and I was agony for the whole week. I couldn’t even push my chair so I was lucky that I can actually walk because otherwise I don’t know how I would have got around the village.
“When I look back on Rio, I think what I was doing was pretty hard core and I’m actually proud that I got a bronze medal given the situation that I was in. Anyone who knows the story I think will appreciate the bronze like I do.”
Whiley has wasted no time in setting her sights on Tokyo 2020 with three years of tennis still to be played, although she is only too aware that challenges could pop up along the way.
But as the first Briton to win all four Grand Slams, she knows what it takes to go all the way to the top and beyond, becoming her country's youngest national women's singles champion when just 14.
In the meantime, however, she’s enjoying watching wheelchair tennis reach new levels of popularity as she encourages the next generation to pick up a racket.
"I feel like I have unfinished business with the Paralympic Games." Jordanne Whiley
“I feel like I have unfinished business with the Paralympic Games. I obviously have no idea what’s around the corner but I do feel like I haven’t competed to the best of my ability,” she said.
“I’d like to compete in Tokyo and be healthy and go on to win a gold – even just to improve on my bronze would be amazing but that’s a long way away at the moment.
“I’ve seen the game grow a lot more [since London and Rio]. At Slams, people now watch on TV, there’s a lot more media coverage and people are more interested.
“When you go into the Paralympic world or the sporting world, people are starting to know who I am. They know who Jordanne Whiley is.
“Six years ago I was just a tennis player doing tennis. It has raised my profile a lot and that’s something I’m passionate about – my sport and getting more people playing wheelchair tennis, especially girls.”