The inclusivity of squash has been on full display at this week’s Canadian Women’s Open, with a number of inclusivity programme participants taking part in on court activities throughout the week.
One such group were wheelchair squash players, who had the chance to play on the stunning glass court in Toronto’s Brookfield Place that has hosted some of squash’s best players.
Wheelchair squash is a version of the sport that has been adapted for wheelchair users through Squash 57: a racket sport in which players use a larger head racket and a larger (57mm), bouncier ball than in squash.
As well as playing exhibition matches on the Jonathon Power Court, two wheelchair squash players gave testimonials about the impact the sport had made on their lives.
One such player was Shauna, who got into squash as a result of Federacion Panamericana de Squash Secretary General and wheelchair squash advocate Lolly Gillen.
She said: “I sustained a spinal cord injury when I was 16 years old as a result of a parachuting accident and I’ve used a wheelchair ever since. I’ve participated in just about every adaptive sport imaginable from basketball to skiing to sledge hockey to tennis and I’m currently a very active and competitive wheelchair curler.
“I thought that I had done it all until Lolly Gillen introduced me to the wonderful world of Squash 57. Squash is a sport I had never tried and never would have dreamed of being able to play. It’s fast paced and exhilarating, and I was hooked from my very first rally.
“I really look forward to being part of Wheelchair Squash57’s growth and development across Canada and in giving others the opportunity to get on court and play a sport that’s easy to learn, fun to play and so addictive!”
Jeff recently took up the sport also after a chance encounter with Lolly, who is a member of the Squash57 Commission of the World Squash Federation.
“In 2008 I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a grapefruit sized sarcoma in my pelvis and went through five surgeries to remove it,” he said.
“I’m missing half of the left side of my pelvis and am permanently paralysed in my left leg as a result. I now rely on crutches to move around and I thought my days of playing any kind of aerobic sports were over.
“With some good fortune in 2023, I met Lolly Gillen who has quickly taken me under her wing to teach me Squash57.
“Finally, I have a sport that gives me an aerobic workout. It is fast paced and extremely cathartic to feel so active once again.
“If there is anyone out there who’s been injured or endured some physical set back, Squash57 gives you the thrilling opportunity to get back on the court.”
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