• Thomas Dodds Wheelchair Tennis Athlete

    wheelchair tennis athlete Sundried activewear ambassador

    Thomas has been in a wheelchair his whole life and found a passion for tennis when he was a child. He talks to Sundried about training and competing.

    What made you first get into the sport of tennis?

    I was involved in a car accident when I was 9 months old, so I grew up in a wheelchair and learnt the way and motion of life from the perspective of a wheelchair.

    When I was about 5 years old, I attended various sports camps as you do as a child and I tried everything from wheelchair basketball to horse riding and archery. The only sport which seemed to come naturally, and that I absolutely loved, was tennis.

    Luckily, I have older brothers who play tennis as a hobby so I always had someone to hit with on court which was a huge motivation. I started playing more seriously in my teens and went on to play for the South African team, reaching a world ranking of 29 in the junior league and competing internationally.

    What do you like most about playing tennis?

    The competitiveness is a huge drive for me; tennis is competitive on all levels. With the most obvious being physical, just as important are the mental and emotional aspects. If one is out of sync, your game will go horribly wrong. I make sure to factor in all three of those aspects when training, pre-match, and on court.

    What's been your favourite competition and why?

    The British Open in Nottingham. The best of the best come to compete as it is directly after Wimbledon so players from all over the world attend and the vibe from Wimbledon is still very much alive. It's also a great showcase of the sport and is well attended by supporters.

    Talk us through your training regime.

    I train 2-3 times a week at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. Once a week with a group of wheelchair tennis players and then 1-2 times a week one-on-one with my coaching team.

    We normally start with a 2-5 minute warm up, ranging from stretching the arms and shoulders to intensive pushing for cardio and strength. The team then decide on a theme for the practice, which will be anything from consistency and direction to power and set plays. They key is to stay away from any negativity or frustration which can appear easily given the determination of both myself and my coaching team, and as soon as this happens we often take water breaks and reset the concentration. Finally, for the last 30 minutes, we have a free hit to try and implement the lessons and coaching advice in a match situation, the part of training where I learn a lot.

    wheelchair tennis athlete Sundried activewear

    Do you follow a specific diet? If so, what/when do you eat?

    No, not really. I love fast food and I'm a really fussy eater ... don't tell my coaching team! When it comes to tournaments, I make sure to get in a good protein-filled breakfast but nothing too heavy, and I bring bananas, isotonic energy gels and energy bars with me on court for before and after matches.

    What challenges have you faced since you started playing tennis competitively?

    Controlling my frustration. I often make the wrong decisions and unforced errors while in a competitive match and struggle to reset my thought process which can lead to losing the match. Making sure I am in the right head space and am fully mentally in the game is the greatest struggle of the game, no matter how fit and well trained I am beforehand.

    Who inspires you?

    When I was 5 years old I met Andre Agassi at a sports camp for children in wheelchairs. He gave me his signed racket and it is probably one of the reasons I fell in love with the sport at that age. Growing into the sport and coming to know and witness so many great players, it's hard to pick just one who inspires me but I must say that I am a Roger Federer fan and I'd love to meet him one day, perhaps when I reach my goal of playing at Wimbledon we will bump into one another...

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

    Don't stop! I was at the top of my game as a junior player when I stopped playing tennis (to focus on things teens do, like going out with friends and attending school events), and I have a lot of catching up to do now that I'm back in the game. Whatever comes your way, make sure to always make time for the things you're passionate about, as not everyone gets the opportunity for a second chance!

    What advice would you give to other wheelchair athletes?

    It may seem like your obstacles are greater than most, but the harder you push, the smaller those obstacles become.

    Why work with Sundried?

    As a wheelchair tennis athlete, I have a lot more to think about other than my training and the sport while on court. Because of my injury, I can't control my body temperature, so when a match environment is very hot it can be quite dangerous for my health. I love that Sundried offers products with cooling functionality as standard so that I don't need to worry about overheating.

    I also believe it's important to work with a brand that shares your values and I acknowledge Sundried for helping to save the environment through their collections that are made from 100% recycled materials, something that is truly unique to the brand and I'm definitely proud to tell everyone that my t-shirt is made from recycled water bottles!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Catherine Cremona Athlete Ambassador

    gym workout get fit

    Catherine is a swimmer who still competes around her work and family life. She talks to Sundried about life in the pool. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    For as long as I can remember, I have been busy in the world of sport! My mum will tell you a tale that I could swim before I could walk and (apparently) when I was only a few months old I could swim naturally.

    What made you decide to enter the world of swimming?

    When I was younger, I was interested in a few sports. Unfortunately, I had an accident when I was 9 or 10 where I broke my arm and it needed pinning. It was so bad that the doctors said I would need to exercise my arm every day or I may lose some of the movement. They recommended swimming and I haven’t looked back since!

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    Our swimming club travelled to Holland, Belgium and Germany to compete. I still remember winning against clubs from other countries and feeling such a sense of achievement. I giggle when I look back at the pictures because even though I am on the first-place podium, the other two swimmers are still taller than me.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Definitely coming back to swimming as a ‘master’ even though I have a family and a career.

    swimmer swimming dive

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I think about all the factors that have led me to my setback and I think ‘What can I do next time to make sure this doesn’t happen again?’

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    It doesn’t matter how big a person is, long distance swimming is about technique.

    What are your goals for 2020?

    To continue to train hard for the 400 metres Individual Medley. This truly is an endurance swim. This will mean stepping up the training both in the water and dry land training (gym work). I aim to have learnt from this year and take on more competitions. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    It’s got to be the first British Olympic champion: Lucy Morton. Lucy Morton won the 200m breaststroke event at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. She is also from my hometown, Blackpool. Lucy was known to be very modest about her wins and when she retired, she opened a swimming school for disabled children. It’s just a shame I didn’t have the £8,400 to buy her medal when it was auctioned in August!

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    I always use my Sundried swim cap and goggles when I train in the water. When I am sat on the poolside or doing conditioning in the gym I love a hoodie, top and shorts combination. So, for me it is the Matterhorn Women's Zip Up Hoodie, La Singla Women's Vest and the Les Rouies 2-In-1 Women's Shorts.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Nick Ratnarajah Athlete Ambassador

    squash racket ball sport athlete

    Nick is an elite level squash (racquetball) player and talks to Sundried about this interesting and sometimes underrated sport. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    My first sport was cricket, which I started playing when I was about 6 years old. Shortly after I also got into swimming, which I continued with until secondary school when the hours and training got a bit much for me at the time. I took up squash because we were lucky enough to have courts at my school, but I still considered cricket my main sport for a few years at that point.

    What made you decide to be a squash player?

    It wasn't until 2012 when I was 16 that I started taking squash seriously and playing England Squash junior tournaments. I really enjoyed the physical side of the game, and the level of intensity which you have to keep up for long periods of time. I think at some point I must have realised I was getting much more out of it than my other sports and decided to push myself to see how high I could get.

    What’s been your favourite game to date and why?

    This summer I've played several tournaments, one of which I got the chance to play the world 120, Rob Downer. He also lives in Nottingham and we train together a bit but this was the first time I'd played him in the PSA and the second and third games were very tight. Although I lost I actually enjoyed the match more than the others because it proved I can compete against some of the top players, especially as I tend to struggle against his style of play anyway.

    And your proudest achievement?

    When I lived in Oslo for 4 months in 2016 I achieved a highest national ranking of 9 from playing just 4 tournaments. More recently my first win on the PSA Satellite Tour this summer was a very special moment for me.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    When I'm struggling mentally with particularly tough results or staying motivated I like to take a step back and remember why I chose to do this. I think too often in elite-level sport the pressure and competitive nature can be overwhelming, and it's important to remember that the main reason for playing is passion and enjoyment.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    It doesn't matter how late you start a sport, you can reach a high level through hard work and a commitment to high-quality training.

    What are your goals for 2020?

    If I can break into the top 350 that would be a great result. I'm currently 445 in the world, so with a bit of luck I can start getting into tournaments and putting myself in a position where I can really take advantage of all the hard work I've put in this summer. I might need a few more results on the Satellite tour first, so if I can make a couple of semi-finals there and start playing the 5K tournaments on the Challenger tour I'll be really happy.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I think everyone has the capacity to inspire and teach others, so I try not to focus too much on what certain individuals are doing. Instead I like to take small lessons from everyone, whether that's athletes at the top of their games that train or play a certain way, or people who've found their passion in life and pursue it.

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    The work with charities like Surfers Against Sewage and Water for Kids is great, and I love the focus on sustainability and the fact that there are three ranges each with different ways of reducing the impact we have. There's a real drive at the moment to reduce the plastic that ends up in the oceans, so I really like the Eco Core range.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Jade Parker Dancer

    dancer model Sundried

    Jade is a dancer who is passionate about her line of work. She talks to Sundried about training and motivation.

    How do you use dance to keep fit?

    Dance is a full body workout and is great cardio. It helps with balance and co-ordination and is also a lot of fun.

    Do you do any other training outside of dance?

    Yes, I go to the gym. I like weight training, HIIT classes and just going for long runs. I try to vary my workouts to keep myself motivated

    What are your fitness goals?

    To maintain a strong and healthy body while improving on my own fitness and endurance.

    Where do you find your training motivation/inspiration?

    In my line of work, appearance is quite important so I am aware I need to keep in shape but luckily it's something I have always enjoyed doing. I know that the healthier I am, the more my dancing will improve so this acts as great motivation.

    What advice would you give our readers to stay in shape? 

    Find something you enjoy, whether that's an activity, sport, class, or exercise. It will be so much easier if you enjoy it and have fun while working out.

    Do you follow a specific nutrition plan and if so, what/when do you eat?

    I do eat mostly healthy foods but I don’t limit myself to anything; if i want a slice of pizza I will definitely have that slice. I live by the motto 'everything in moderation'.  

    What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?

    I love that the activewear is eco-friendly and is just trying to leave our planet in better shape than we found it. It's also high performing and will push you to your limit. My favourite piece so far is the Sundried Solaro women’s leggings, they are high waisted and cinching in all the right places.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • The Worst Mistakes To Make During A Race

    running mistakes race marathon professional athlete Sundried

    From forgetting something to going the wrong way, we've all been there. Sundried asked our ambassadors "what is the dumbest thing you've ever done at a race?" and these were their answers! Have you ever made any of these racing mistakes?

    Helene Wright - Triathlete

    I was once on the bike leg of a duathlon and knew I was second lady so was chasing down the leader. I saw a cyclist in the distance so pushed on to catch them. As I got closer I soon came to realise they weren't wearing a number so they weren't even in my race... But worse still I'd followed them off course and down to the bottom of a hill!  Fortunately, after getting back into the race, I hadn't lost a place but didn't track down the leader in time to win first place.

    John Wood - Team GB Triathlete and Coach

    A client of mine raced Cardiff Triathlon as part of training and forgot his wetsuit.

    Dominic Garnham - Triathlete

    I trained hard throughout all of last winter for a race early this year. I felt very confident and very excited for the race and I was in the best shape I've ever been. I turned up to sign in at registration on the day only to find I had forgotten to actually enter the race! 

    Nick Lower - Celebrity Trainer

    I fractured my ankle 7 miles into ‘Man v Mountain’ (a 20 mile race up and down Mount Snowdon). I stupidly just strapped it up and completed it!

    Alice Tourell North - Team GB Triathlete

    At a recent race I forgot to put my race belt on! I had the best swim I’ve had this season, flew into T1, got to my bike... and then had to stand there for over 3 minutes whilst the race officials tried to find my husband who had the race belt in my bag. Total nightmare!

    Steve Sayer - Triathlete and Coach

    My swim hat pinged off and I lost my goggles at Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball, but I had the fastest swim stroke ever!

    Martin Owen - Team GB Triathlete

    I had an issue until recently of not being able to pedal and drink at the same time. I used to have to coast very slowly to drink. In a standard distance Duathlon, my bottle wouldn’t go back into the holder and it dropped out on the first lap. 35 more miles on 1 gel and no water...not nice!

    Anne Iarchy - Personal Trainer

    I hadn't ridden my bike for a couple of years due to injury. I had entered a triathlon last year, hoping I would have the time to get back on beforehand. Unfortunately that didn't happen. As I got onto the bike leg, I had totally forgotten how to change the gears on the bike. I managed to take them up, but not down. So when pedalling into the wind, it was really hard work. Thankfully I managed to figure something out on the 3rd lap!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren