30 Under 30: Gemma Lumsdaine

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Gemma Lumsdaine in team photo from Sainsbury's School Games 2015

So, picture this: there you are, living your life, doing what you do, no big deal, right? Now imagine that you had to represent your country in one month playing a sport you’d never played before.

You could say ‘nope, no way, that isn’t happening, uh uh.’

Gemma Lumsdaine on Wheelchair Basketball courtOr, if you are like 18 year old Gemma Lumsdaine from Dunblane, you could say ‘I have so got this,’ spend that month taking a crash course in how to be a badass wheelchair basketball player, play for Scotland, and add yet another sport to your growing list of ‘things at which I rock.’

Because that’s basically what she did. When basketballscotland Wheelchair Basketball Development Officer Tina Gordon came looking for someone to play for Scotland, Gemma was already dominating wheelchair rugby and para-equestrian dressage, but had never played basketball.

A few years later and Gemma is playing for Scotland’s National League Club, the Lothian Phoenix, and is an all-star for the Women’s League Club, the Angels of the North. She’s captained the Under 19s team for Scotland at the Lord Taverner’s National Junior Championships, and was called to be Vice-Captain of the Scotand Under 23 Squad. She was (no surprise here) also awarded the Jean Ratcliffe Outstanding Achievement award in 2014.

Take a breath, there’s more.

She continues to play wheelchair rugby (also called murderball!?) where she was the youngest member of the Senior Scotland Rugby League squad in the Four Nations, 2014, and was named best in classification for great Britain Wheelchair Rugby division three.

She coaches, too. Did we mention she coaches?

She’s a coach at her local wheelchair sports club, the Dundee Dragons, as well as the Abertay University team, and is assistant coach for the Scottish Uni representative team (who won silver at the British Wheelchair Basketball University Championships this year, btw). She was named Disability Coach of the Year by Basketball Tayside and Fife.

‘I love coaching because I get to give back, and you are helping people fall in love with the sport. But still, whenever I’m coaching, I’ll be thinking “I want to be out there”’

Gemma Lumsdaine in action on the courtGemma, who has cerebral palsy, is also a keen activist for disability rights, sitting on the Scottish Disability Sport Young People’s Panel and acting as an ambassador for the disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz.

She told the Daily Record that she wants to inspire young people: ‘I want to… prove to them a disability does not have to hold you back – it can move your life forward in lots of positive ways.’

We’re pretty much convinved that Gemma has proven that about 1000 times over. She’s set her sights on the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, but isn’t sure which sport she’d like to play.

Whichever she chooses, her passion for sport will definitely drive her to success.

‘I just love how full on it is, how intense it is. I’m a very competitive person, and I just love working in a team and working together to win.’

Find out more about Gemma on the British Wheelchair Basketball website, and keep track of her (many!) games on Twitter at @GemmaLumsdaine.

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