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  1. ITV Report

Ready for Rio: Gordon Reid

In the run-up to the Rio Paralympic Games, ITV News speaks to four Paralympics GB athletes aiming for gold.

In the last of our Ready for Rio series, we profile wheelchair tennis player Gordon Reid.

Gordon Reid was just 16 when he represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing.

At such a young age, the Scottish-born sports prodigy also earned the title of Britain's youngest men's singles National Champion and is a current Wimbledon Champion.

Having also reached the semi-finals at London 2012, Reid's stellar credentials stand him in good stead for an impressive performance at Rio.

  • Age: 24
  • Sport: Wheelchair tennis
  • Condition: Transverse myelitis (inflamed spinal cord)
  • Trains: Stirling
  • Games history: London 2012 (Men's singles semi-finals)
  • Rank: World number two (Men's doubles)

Gordon Reid was just a week away from his 13th birthday when his legs collapsed while out playing with friends.

He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a rare neurological condition called transverse myelitis, which paralysed him from the waist down.

"I was in hospital for six months," Reid said. "I couldn't feel my legs - I had friends and family around me crying and upset.

"It was a terrifying time for me at such a young age, a depressing time as well. No kid at that age wants to be lying in bed with those circumstances. That was the lowest point for me."

As an energetic child, Reid was used to playing plenty of sports, including tennis and football, so losing the use of his legs was very difficult to adjust to.

Reid went through rehab, was eventually discharged from hospital, and regained some feeling in his legs.

Even though he managed to stand and walk a little, he still needed a wheelchair for sports.

Gordon Reid in action at Wimbledon. Credit: PA Wire

However, Reid wasted no time in getting back onto the court. In 2006, just two years after his diagnosis, Reid was among 10 shortlisted finalists for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

In 2007, Reid became Britain's youngest men's singles National Champion, and was part of Great Britain's winning junior team at the World Team Cup.

The following year, at the age of 16, he qualified for Beijing 2008 - a feat the sportsman considers one of his greatest achievements.

Reid continued to build on his skills and garner acclaim from the sporting world as further accolades followed, including:

  • 2012: Men's singles semi-finalist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games
  • 2014: Tennis Scotland International Player of the Year (Shared with Andy Murray in 2015)
  • 2015: Won his first two Gland Slam titles in doubles and became the first British men’s wheelchair player to earn a world number one senior ranking
  • 2016: Won the Australian Open, becoming the first British wheelchair tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title
  • 2016: Made Wimbledon history by winning the first ever men's wheelchair singles competition
Gordon Reid (right) celebrates his victory in the men's wheelchair doubles at Wimbledon with Alfie Hewett (left). Credit: PA Wire

Sport has not just given Reid an impressive array of superlative titles - it has also played an instrumental role in helping him overcome any perceived limitations brought on by his condition.

The first time I got in a chair, it was difficult to adapt to playing wheelchair sports.

Now sport helps me alot - my rehab and my recovery. It got me back active and healthy and also helped me socially.

I could meet other people in chairs, see how great a life they were living and how great characters they were. It reminded me that life's not over because you have a disability - you can start a new life.

– Gordon Reid

Reid hopes to bring home two gold medals from Rio. He is acutely aware that the competition will be fierce and that it won't be easy, but his self-belief is sure.

"If I can perform and play well, there's no reason why I can't win two golds," Reid insists.

To other young budding sports stars who may feel their condition might place limitations on their ability, the tennis champion has the following advice:

Just to go out there and give it a go. Sometimes you don't know what you’re capable of until you do it and realise it for yourself.

Hopefully it can change your life in the same way it's changed mine.

– Gordon Reid

The British Paralympic Association has launched its 2016 Paralympic Inspiration Programme today. For more information, visit the Help for Heroes website.