Sam and Mark have been married since 2008. Both with a background in wheelchair tennis they are passionate about inclusive sport and healthy and active lifestyles. They live together in London and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and life experiences to raise awareness of inclusion and active and healthy lifestyles.
Sam has been in a wheelchair since 1992 and played wheelchair tennis from 2003 until 2009 representing Brazil in three World Team Cups and reaching no 44 on the ITF ranking. She is also a model and very successful in her chosen career, physically active and happy in her personal life. Sam is living proof that a wheelchair does not have to be an obstacle to achieving any of her goals. Born in 1978 in Osorio-Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, Sam’s life changed forever at the tender age of 14, when a bullet wound left her paraplegic.
Before her accident, Sam was a keen tennis player and had been playing the sport for seven years. Her initial experiences with wheelchairs left her feeling very depressed: ‘The first wheelchair that I was given while still at the clinic was simply terrible. It was much too big and heavy and my legs were positioned too far forward.’ However, that was a long time ago. Thankfully there have been many positive changes in the life of this young woman since then. She can now look back proudly at what she has already achieved and has every reason to feel optimistic about the future.
Many people dream of being a model. Not so long ago, a career in modelling would have been completely unthinkable for wheelchair users. However, thanks to outgoing and confident people like Sam that, the negative perception of wheelchair users that unfortunately still exists in our society is gradually changing, as Sam explains: “As a model, I am subject to exactly the same demands as every other model. In other words, I have to be very disciplined when it comes to my diet, I have to be active, and, of course, I have to look after my appearance. My wheelchair must suit me as an individual. It should help me to express my personality in front of the camera without dominating the picture too much or deflecting attention away from me.’
Sam’s favourite sports include tennis, swimming and handcycling and she regularly visits the gym.
Mark has more than 25 years of experience in Paralympic and disability sport, sports development and the broader social impact of sport. He was the Great Britain National Wheelchair Tennis Coach and personal coach to British number one Jayant Mistry. He has travelled to more than eighty countries developing wheelchair tennis in two separate roles with the International Tennis Federation. He has worked at four Paralympic Games and two Olympic Games in various capacities from coach to Technical Delegate and has extensive experience of delivering sports programmes in developed and developing countries. Mark is an experienced public speaker and has presented at numerous conferences around the world including the IOC Congress on Sport for All and the IPC Strategic Gathering. He is an Advisor to Choice International, a member of the University of Nottingham Sports Board and served on the IPC Paralympic Games Committee from 2014 – 17.
Prior to joining the International Tennis Federation Mark was General Manager of the UK’s largest public tennis centre and held Tennis Development Officer roles in Cardiff and Nottingham. He studied Economics at the University of Nottingham and has a Masters degree in Recreation Management from Loughborough University. He was Athletic Union President at the University of Nottingham from 1989/90.
Mark and Sam lead a very active life together and enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences through presentations, talks, workshops and training sessions. If you would like a presentation or workshop on disability, inclusive physical activity and sport please get in contact.