joanna robertson half marathon

Scottish Wheelchair Racer Joanna Robertson is 24 years old and from Aberdeen. After suffering a life changing spinal injury back in 2019 Joanna turned to sport and hasn’t looked back since. She is now competing at the national level and WheelPower was delighted to be able to support her ongoing development by helping her to fund some rollers so she can now train all year around.

The Accident

Joanna sustained a T12 spinal cord injury in a car accident in 2019 and spent many months in the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Unit in Glasgow during her rehabilitation. Being physically active and playing sport became an important aspect of her rehab as she explains:

“Before my injury sport played a very minor role in my life, I had done a bit of swimming but only very casually. But after my accident I found sports vastly more enjoyable. I discovered how they were able to help me both mentally and physically, and I became involved in swimming, hand cycling, and wheelchair racing. It was actually my physio at the spinal unit who informed me of wheelchair racing, and in the past Samantha Kinghorn (2x Paralympic medallist at Tokyo 2020) was one of her patients. I googled it and instantly fell in love with it.”

Wheelchair Racing

After trying a number of sports in the years after her injury Joanna discovered that wheelchair racing gave her everything she was looking for. She tells us more about her first experience, “I first tried wheelchair racing in a second hand racing chair. It was far too small for me, but I made it work hard and gave me a good introduction to sport.”

“Over time I gained funding to buy my own custom Bromakin chair (see picture) and I now train six days a week with the Aberdeen Amateur Athletics Club. Three are distance focused runs on the road with my coach, and the next three are gym and swim focused to change up the muscle groups.”

Joanna is progressing very quickly in the sport, inspired by fellow Scottish athletes Melanie Woods and Sammi Kinghorn who both also have close connections to WheelPower. In the past year Joanna has started competing more regularly and joined Melanie and Sammi on the start line in a recent half marathon! (pictured below)

wheelchair racers joanna robertson sammi kinghjorn melanie woods

“Wheelchair Racing gives me so much happiness and has already given me lots goals to achieve in the future. I adore the competition of wheelchair racing, it has given me the motivations to become the fittest and healthiest version of myself. So far I have taken part in many parkruns, 3ks, 5ks, 10ks and even a half marathon in Edinburgh. This Spring I am looking forward to doing the London Marathon (23 April 2023) for the first time which is very exciting!”

WheelPower and the Wheelwrights Fund

Joanna is no stranger to WheelPower having attended a number of online exercise classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. These classes supported her to maintain her fitness whilst unable to train and it is great that WheelPower is now able to continue that support through the Wheelwrights Fund.

“I heard about Wheelwrights Fund from a friend of mine after moaning to her about not being able to train when the weather was horrible (and its Scotland, so the weather is normally bleh!). She told me about the fund from WheelPower and suggested I asked them about getting some rollers for my home.”

joanna robertson wheelwrights rollers

“My application was successful and the rollers arrived a few months ago. I adore them and now when the weather is bad I can go on my rollers in my workout shed. I turn on my music and I am happily on them for a few hours. They have already helped me massively, and I have a mirror set up so I can see my pushing technique while on them. It helps me to change my technique and see if I am pushing correctly. I can also now join my other wheelchair racing friends on Zoom and we can do roller sessions together.”

The Future

The future is looking very bright for Joanna and we wish her all the best for her 2023 season, and beyond. We look forward to welcoming her to Stoke Mandeville Stadium for the British Wheelchair Athletics Association grand prix events and will be cheering her on as she competes her first marathons.

The final words come from Joanna; “All I can say is a massive thank you to WheelPower. The funding for the rollers has made the sport I adore all the more enjoyable. It has broken down more barriers, has made me all the healthier and happier and I can’t wait now to put all my extra training into practice this year.”

“The question now for me is what isn't next! I am hopeful to complete more marathons after London, I have races lined up in Stoke Mandeville, 10k in Manchester, Coventry spring track races, and much more. Its very exciting times and I’m so happy that I found wheelchair racing after my injury.”