After the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics were postponed until next August because of the COVID-19 pandemic, tennis player Heath Davidson is beyond grateful they weren’t cancelled.
“There were some things in my life that I put on hold to focus on Tokyo 2020,” said Heath. “After four years of hard work, this year was meant to be it. But it’s actually been good to have a break for the first time in five years. I’ve played a lot of PlayStation and Nintendo, actually stopped to relax, got through paperwork and completed home workouts. As we were allowed to practise on private tennis courts during the first lockdown, I did get to have a few hits with my tennis partner, Dylan Alcott. I’m grateful that we haven’t been in a full lockdown like other countries; we’re just waiting it out. It will turn around in the end.”
Heath moved to Rosebud in his late teens after playing tennis from the age of 14. He first competed for Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, where he won gold in the quad doubles, and also took out the 2016 ITF World Team Cup in Tokyo with his friend and mentor Dylan. Then, at the 2018 Australian Open, he and Dylan won the quad wheelchair doubles final, repeating their feat in 2019 and 2020 – so 33-year-old Heath isn’t afraid to admit that it’s a bit of a ‘bromance’ with Dylan.
Motivational speaking has also become a passion of Heath’s, where he thrives on inspiring those with disabilities to get into sport. Being told to restrict his practice during Stage 3 lockdowns to hitting the ball against a brick wall or on a private court was a challenge to say the least, but using online platforms to present his keynote speeches has kept him busy.
“The first hit back on the court was great. I was a bit rusty so it took a while to get my rhythm back, then I felt like I was hitting better than I ever have. I can’t wait to get back into proper training after lockdown 2.0. Daily I’ll be at the gym for fitness training for one and a half hours and two and a half hours spent hitting the ball for five days a week.”
For now, Heath is using his spare time to work with Get Skilled Access, an organisation that helps remove the barrier between organisations and people with a disability and of which Dylan is a co-founder.
“I’m really looking forward to Tokyo, so for now it is full steam ahead,” said Heath. “I’ll continue to improve on the tennis court and learn new skills and techniques. With an extra 12 months to prepare, I’m going to listen to my body. So I will work hard to improve, get better and of course relax. With so much free time now, I will make a new plan, focus on changing and improving my technique as I have time to spend perfecting it now.”
You can catch Heath on Instagram @heathdavidson13