It’s a very exciting time for Wendy, one of our Clinical Managers, and her family. Her stepson, Heath Davidson, is currently competing in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Heath is an Australian quad wheelchair tennis player and competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, where he teamed up with Dylan Alcott to win the Men’s Quad Doubles Gold Medal.
We caught up with Wendy to hear more about Heath and what it means to her family to watch him achieve these incredible things.
When did Heath start playing tennis?
Heath started playing tennis when he was 13-years-old. He continued to play tennis until he was 18-years-old until he decided that girls, drugs and rock and roll were more important and much more fun than training. Heath gave up tennis for ten years from age 18 and then returned to it at 28.
On his return to tennis, within 6 months, he was invited back into the Tennis Australia Fold, where he teamed up with Dylan Alcott, his best friend from childhood, and promptly won the World Teams Cup for Australia for the first time. Three months later, he was given a Wild Card entry to the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he became the 426th gold medal recipient for Australia in the history of the games, both able-bodied and disabled.
Heath and Dylan met while attending the Spinal Bifida Clinic at Monash Medical Centre and decided that Tennis would be a great way to get fit and lose weight because they were both little ‘porkers’.
What makes you most proud about Heath’s journey?
I’d say that Heath’s strength and determination make us proud. Through the adversity of, not just his disability, but also of having an intellectually disabled older brother who he felt a responsibility for and the emotional trauma of the break-down of his parents’ marriage during his teen years (which placed enormous pressure on his life’s journey), Heath has remained resilient to achieve good things for his life. Phil and I are very proud parents to watch Heath come to a place of having the life he has chosen for himself.
Because of his endurance, resilience and commitment, he has not only become an elite Sportsmen on behalf of our country, has been honoured by our country with an Order of Australia medal (in 2016) for his contribution to Wheelchair Tennis.
His life from 18 to 28 was filled with the darker things of life, and it is to his great credit that he not only survived this time but returned to the sport he loves and has now achieved Olympic status and world acknowledgment as an elite sportsman. His desire to help others in a similar situation to him inspires us as a family every day. This is why we, as a family, are so very proud of him.
What have you learned from Heath?
That no matter what life throws at you, the “sun comes up tomorrow, and every moment is an opportunity not to be wasted”. And that life is good!
Heath is very content with his life in a chair and has no desire to change anything that has occurred in his life’s journey.
What does watching Heath compete in the Paralympics mean to you and your family?
It’s not just watching Heath compete, but watching all the Paralympian athletes competing at the highest level and changing able-bodied people’s perception of disability. You see the person and not the disability! They are truly all inspiring in their own special ways.
We are all immensely proud of Heath. Not just for his tennis ability but for his desire to help other disabled people achieve their dreams and goals, particularly with young people and sport.
Why do you think having the Paralympics is important?
I think it’s important to have a Paralympics because it gives people with a disability an opportunity to be seen as being able to aspire to and achieve incredible things that they chose for themselves. It also gives other people with a disability encouragement to achieve their dreams with hope, strength, resilience and determination.
We wish Heath luck for the rest of the Paralympics and thank Wendy for sharing their story with us.