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Lynsey McCullough: 'I've learned how precious life can be and to appreciate every day'

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Lynsey McCullough

Lynsey McCullough

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

PA

Lynsey McCullough

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 former Ireland tennis player and multiple Ulster champion Lynsey McCullough, now a member of the Belfast Boat Club and Tennis Ulster coaching teams.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Given the global situation I am happy to be alive and healthy and to have such a supportive family and friend group around me at this difficult time. Having access to social media and platforms such as Zoom has made this time a little more bearable. Although I haven't been able to see my family and friends in person, we have been interacting via the internet. Over the past few months we have had social evenings, quizzes and even a murder mystery evening which was great fun.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: There has been no competitive or recreational tennis played for over two months. From the age of four any breaks I have had from tennis have been very short and mainly due to injury, so as you can imagine it has been very strange for me to be away from the game for so long. However, although I love my job and love tennis as a sport, every now and again it is nice to take a break and reflect on your past and what you want to achieve going forward. Luckily, tennis along with golf has been allowed to resume. We all feel very lucky to get back on the court and to have some form of normality returning to our lives although there are obviously strict health and safety measures to adhere to in order to do it.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: Throughout lockdown I have been trying to keep up a high level of fitness to ensure I don't get injured when returning to the court. At home I have been taking part in online spin classes and various workouts and have some weights at home, too. Where I live in Newtownabbey there are many beautiful walkways where I have also been going for runs. I try to incorporate some form of exercise into my daily routine. Alongside this I have spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling.

Q: How are you maintaining morale?

A: I am very lucky to work with an amazing group of coaches at the Belfast Boat Club and Ulster Tennis. We have all grown up training and competing against each other at junior and senior level and are like a big family. We have all been very supportive of each other at this time and have kept in regular contact about the club and how we can do the best for our members when everything reopens, keeping in close contact with them through social media. We posted tennis skills, fitness and footwork exercise videos for everyone to practice over the break.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I am an intrinsically motivated individual and therefore push myself to my limits in all activities that I do. I am looking forward to getting back to working with my colleagues and individual clients and pushing our club and performance players to the next level. Hopefully soon I will be able to travel with my elite players to tournaments and watch the hard work pay off.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think stay at home sports fans might enjoy?

A: Over the lockdown I watched the documentary on Michael Jordan, 'The Last Dance'. It is a stunningly refined and comprehensive look at the legacy and inner turmoil of one of the most successful sports teams of all time. Jordan is an incredible athlete and undoubtedly one of the best basketball players ever. His self-motivation, discipline, drive and willpower are second to none, and that makes him one of the best sports competitors that I have seen. This is a must watch.

I have also started to read Andre Agassi's autobiography called 'Open'. Many of my tennis colleagues have told me that it is the best book that they have ever read so I am looking forward to seeing what it is all about.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Not to take things for granted. I have learnt how fragile and precious life can be and to appreciate every day as it comes and, going forward, to take regular breaks to reflect on life and how I want to achieve my goals. I have learnt the importance of keeping regular contact with my family and friends and to surround myself with people who bring positivity into my life.

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

A: I am a hugger, so when this is all over I am very excited about being able to give hugs to people again. It's been very strange for me and as I'm sure it has for many people to keep your distance from your loved ones. I am looking forward to getting back on the tennis court and being able to get into a normal routine, and hopefully in the not too distant future a holiday in the sun will be on the cards.

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: Life is short. Remember that the glass is always half full and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Stay positive. Stay safe.

Belfast Telegraph