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James MacSorley: 'For every bad story, there is someone doing something good and that's nice to see'



James McSorley

James McSorley

James McSorley

James McSorley

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

James McSorley

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to wheelchair basketball player James MacSorley who plays for the Great Britain national team and with Spanish elite team ADM Econy Gran Canaria.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I'm in Gran Canaria, where I play for a team, and the restrictions are very similar to the UK only we're a few weeks ahead. There are really only eight essential reasons for you to leave the house, so I'm staying home where possible. I've got some work-out equipment and I'm trying to keep myself ticking over because when this all blows over I want to be ready to go straight into action. We've had a lot of support and been given a lot of stuff from Team GB to stay in shape and keep fit but, above all, we're just trying to stay healthy. I'm bored more than anything else, which is a good problem to have I suppose.

Q: How has the virus affected you?

A: The league that I'm playing in, the top league in Spain, is postponed until further notice, and people far above us players are discussing what options are available. All European competitions have been cancelled, so we're just playing the waiting game. All we can do is train at home because we need to stay fit and healthy. Whenever it's deemed safe to return to play then we can go from there, but for the moment we're just waiting.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: We can't meet as a team because there are restrictions on mass gatherings and all the leisure centres are closed anyway, as is right and proper. We talk as a team on video calls, and GB is the same, we've been good at staying in touch with each other that way. Nothing in person. I live with a couple of my team-mates here in Spain, we've got a US women's player and a Dutch men's player and their national teams are giving them things to do as well, so we all get on with our own programmes designed by our own strength and conditioning coaches. We've ended up with a basketball in the apartment so we've been able to throw that about, but that's not training, that's just messing about.


On the ball: GB ace James MacSorley

On the ball: GB ace James MacSorley

On the ball: GB ace James MacSorley


Q: How are you keeping up morale?

A: My club here organises video calls and the GB team also keep in touch with each other. There's a nice balance of looking at what we need to do and making sure everyone's okay because that's the most important thing right now. All of this is about making sure we get through it together, mentally as much as physically. I know some people struggle with being inside, so we're very conscious of both aspects of this.

As professional athletes we need to come out the other side of this ready to go, but this is unprecedented times for all of us and this is all very new and strange, so there's plenty of checking in with each other. The GB team is a group of lads from the ages of 20 to their mid-30s, so there's plenty of craic flying about, that keeps us going as well. It's a nice reminder to keep in touch with people. I've been calling more than texting, and video calling where I can just to take it that extra step.

Q: Do you have any books or box sets you can recommend to stay at home sports fans?

A: I'm currently attempting to watch The Wire because I've heard great things. I've got a list of 100 movies on a bucket list I'm trying to get through, I'm trying to watch more movies than TV series. I watched No Country For Old Men the other day, it's amazing. For TV series, I haven't enjoyed anything as much as Breaking Bad.

Q: What's the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: I assume I'm still going to be in the very fortunate position of being in Gran Canaria and I can see the beach from my window, so that's the first place I'm going straight away. Out the door, down the street to the beach, meet up with a couple of friends and get some good food beside the beach, then go for a swim. I'd been back home when I was rehabbing from an injury for three months, then when I came back here everything went into lockdown, so I literally haven't seen some of my team-mates for three months.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: I'm very appreciative of my health, the good people I have around me and good people in general. The thing I've found from this is people are generally good. For every 'Oh God, this person got sick', there's someone who has donated all the food in their restaurant because they're closing down for three months or someone who's delivering to old people. For every bad story, there tends to be a story of someone doing something out of the goodness of their heart and that's something really nice to see.

You've also got to look after your health and your mind - for those to be in a good spot is a privilege, and you really notice it when you're stuck inside and things are grim. If you're lucky enough to be in control of that then it's important you keep on top of that.

Q: Do you have a message for sports fans?

A: Stay safe, stay inside, look after yourself, look after those who need it more than you and look after your family. Call, don't text!

James is supported by Sport NI lottery funding and endorses the Progressive Building Society Disability Sports Hubs.

Belfast Telegraph