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Melissa Reid becomes first ever women's Visually Impaired World Champion

23 January 2019

We hooked her up with a suit for this. She's already a Paralympic Triathlete and got Bronze at the last Games in Rio. Anyway she did the world champs for surfing as it was the first time the womens have included a visually impaired division. She WON! World Champ.


1.) Winning the Womens VI category at the ISA Adaptive World Champs is a massive achievement. Was that your goal gong into the event? What did you do to prep for it?


I was not expecting to win the women’s VI category at the world championships. Surfing has always been my passion so I just went out there to have some fun and promote women’s surfing. it's been challenging to get time in the sea due to transportation obstacles as a blind athlete, but I tried to get in as much as possible before the event I went out a week early as 'there was another adaptive contest. Myself and Matt thought it would be good practice for the following week.


2.) What is the breakdown of how the VI visually impaired category works. Each surfer has a 'spotter' in the water with them is that right? How did your relationship with Matt Harwood work together?


Each surfer has a spotter/guide. I nicknamed Matt my eyes for the week. Having only met him for about 10mins prior to traveling out to California we had to learn quickly, as this was a totally new experience for both of us. Matt would tell me if a set was coming, which way the wave was breaking and which ones to go for. We used yes yes yes (to go for it) and no no no (if he didn’t want me to go for it or I needed to pull off). I had to have full faith in Matts wave selection (even if he did try to wipe me out a few times).Matt and I had a great partnership and I couldn't imagine being paired with anyone more suitable. He even understood my sense of humour and my competitive nature.

3.) What did it feel like getting chaired up the beach as the first ever visually impaired female World Champ?


It was amazing being chaired out the water. We couldn’t hear the results out in the water so we were both coming in unaware. As we got closer to the shore Matt told me the English team were running into the sea waving flags and WE had won! I use WE as I couldn’t have done it without him. It was a huge shock and an amazing experience. I still can’t quite believe I won


4.) What are your goals moving forward?


My goals for the next few years are to continue surfing and competing as much as I can. I’d love to retain my world title and give the guys a run for their money this year. (Narrowly missing out on the final )

I will also be focusing on qualifying for Paratriathlon at the Tokyo Paralympic Games to improve on the bronze medal I gained in Rio.

 

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