SHE has prepared for the big moment with every minute of every training session and today Louise Hunt will finally make her debut at the Paralympics.
The University of Bath student, whose father, mother and brother have all competed in sport at a high level, will bid for glory in wheelchair tennis. Born in Swindon, Louise first hit a tennis ball aged five in a game with her family. The 21-year-old trained at the David Lloyd and Delta indoor centres and outdoors in Royal Wootton Bassett . She is ranked 22 on the international ladder and landed a bronze medal at the world team cup last year. The sports performance student now lives in Wanborough but has retained her 13-year relationship with coach Ali Ward.
Having watched her family’s achievements, which include her father’s success in speedway, she will look to live up to her own billing as one of GB’s brightest young hopes. Deep in preparation for her first match yesterday, she was hailed as a consummate pro by Ward. “She’s committed, she gives 100 per cent on the court every day, she’s not afraid of hard work and she doesn’t let her disability get in the way in any way shape, or form,” he said. “She makes her own way to the training sessions, and she’s never late. She’s a fantastic role model for young tennis players. “ Louise, who was born with spina bifida, combines her studies with 16 hours a week on court as well as conditioning work and swimming. She said in preparation for the Games: “It’s always on my mind. “Every minute of every training session. Every point in every match is part of that journey there.”
She relaxes by watching West End shows and playing the piano, but her focus and determination – a trait passed down from her parents – have been her biggest assets.
“She comes from a family of GB performers,” Ward said. “Her mum, dad and brother have competed for GB for their own individual sports so she’s the last in the family to fulfil the Olympic dream. It’s nice to get to the top of the tree and it shows all the hard work does pay off if you stick to it.”
Hunt, who was on the front row as GB’s Paralympians entered the stadium for the opening ceremony, is unlikely to lose her nerve, despite facing world No11 Yui Kamiji.
“It’s lovely to see her compete at this high level,” Ward said. “She is taking it all in and being very professional. She’s been on the practice courts and is doing really well. She’s professional, relaxed and she has got a good team around her to keep her calm.”