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Jordanne Whiley: Getting there

Q. How long before an event do you travel to your destination?

JW: If I’m competing in Europe I fly out the day before as it’s only a short flight and they’re pretty regular. If I’m travelling further afield then I usually fly about four days before I’m due to compete because it can take around three days to get over jetlag. When I’m competing in Australia I’ll go about five or six days in advance because the flight alone is a full day.

Q. You mentioned jetlag – do you have any tips for staying ‘game ready’ when crossing different time zones?

JW: I’m quite lucky as I don’t get jetlag too badly, but my boyfriend (Jordanne’s boyfriend is fellow wheelchair tennis player Marc McCarroll) really suffers when he travels. It’s important to drink lots because you can become really dehydrated on flights because of the aircon, and that can make you feel quite sick when you land. My main tip would be not to nap for more than hour when you arrive at your destination and go to bed at the right time for that timezone as best you can. If you nap for more than an hour your body just won’t adapt.

Q. Does travelling interrupt your training schedule close to a big event?

JW: Not really, my training is less intense when I’m really close to an event so it doesn’t really affect it. I just need to make sure I give myself enough time to recover from the flight if I’m travelling a long way.

Q. How do you ensure you get enough fluids and the right nutrition while on a flight?

JW: I always make sure I’ve packed snack bars if it’s a long flight, and the airlines usually hand out water if I’m flying long distance. Not many people know this but on long haul flights there’s usually a snack bar on the plane where you can go for drinks and snacks. I only discovered this recently – I kept seeing people leaving their seats and coming back with food and eventually I worked out where they were getting it from. If you’re flying long haul, I definitely recommend trying to find it as not many people seem to realise it exists!

Q. Do you have a favourite airline or airport?

JW: I usually fly with British Airways and I really like flying with them. My favourite airport is Heathrow – because it’s only 10 minutes away from my house! I’ve never had any issues there, it’s a great airport and the staff have always been really helpful. Flights from Heathrow are usually direct too, which is easier on my body.

Q. Who do you usually travel with?

JW: When I’m competing I usually travel on my own. I don’t mind though, I’m not a nervous flier. Sometimes I get to fly with my boyfriend if he’s competing at the same event which is always nice, and you often find you bump into other team members and coaches on flights.

Q. Do you travel in your kit and do you find you’re treated differently if you do?

JW: I usually travel in my normal clothes but when we travel to the World Team Cup we wear our uniforms to travel in. You find that people stare and get quite excited, but people always ask if we’re a wheelchair basketball team and they don’t seem as aware of wheelchair tennis. Lots of people are surprised when I say I play wheelchair tennis, I get that a lot.

Q. Have you ever been in a position where your equipment has become damaged or even lost in transit?

JW: Yes – loads of times! That’s why travel insurance is important and it’s good to have the peace of mind that Fish Insurance is looking after me. My worst experience was at the Wheelchair Tennis Doubles Masters; when I arrived my wheelchair had been completely smashed to pieces in transit. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play which was especially horrible because we were being tipped to win. Luckily I managed to borrow a chair and we went on to win the final which was amazing – I don’t like to think about how close I came to missing out!

Q. What’s your main tip for avoiding ‘travel disasters?’

JW: Stay calm! When you’re disabled you can find that some airports treat you like an invalid and that can be stressful. I understand that there are some people who do need assistance but I’m very independent and I’ve found that even when I say I’m fine, people still try to give me help I don’t need. I don’t want to be horrible as I know their intentions are good, but it can be frustrating. I ended up flying off the handle once and regretted it, so if you find yourself in a similar situation my advice is to try your best to keep your cool.

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