20 Questions: Belfast basketball pro tells of life in lockdown on Gran Canaria

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: wheelchair basketball world champion James MacSorley from Belfast, a member of the Great Britain national team and player with Spanish elite team, ADM Econy Gran Canaria

1 Up and at it – what is your new morning routine?

A typical morning right now is to wake up, stretch, drink some water. After breakfast, I either work out at home, or go for a walk. That sets me up nicely for the rest of my day.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for…

Breakfast? Porridge or some eggs on toast.

Lunch? Lunch depends on my training for the day and will either be a salad or a load of vegetables with some chicken. I might also throw some rice or pasta in there too.

Evening meal? For dinner, I mix it up, but generally keep it quite healthy. My fiancée is a vegetarian, so I end up eating a lot of vegetarian meals throughout the week and getting alternative sources of protein.

3 Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

I’m very lucky to be supported by UK National Lottery funding and Sport NI and to be playing basketball in a professional league in Spain, so basketball is my only job. Obviously, no-one is out playing basketball games right now, so I’m working out and looking after myself at home.

4 Best/easiest lockdown meal?

I’ve been cooking such a wide range of meals recently, that I don’t know what I’d choose at the moment.

5 Weekend treat?

Me, my fiancée, Anna, and my club team-mate are in lockdown together and, about once a week, we go all-out and make pizza from scratch. It’s a lot of fun, nice and easy and tastes amazing.

6 How do you keep physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

Between British Wheelchair Basketball and the English Institute of Sport, I am very fortunate to have access to a very high level of strength and conditioning, physiotherapy and nutritional support, so we are in constant contact about the physical training we can do at home to maintain our strength and our fitness, as well as doing maintenance work to keep injury-free. Mentally, I have been very open on social media about my struggles with mental health before the lockdown, but I have taken this time to work on that and I have found that mindfulness and meditation have really helped me look after my head.

7 What is your daily outdoor exercise?

In Spain, we have been on complete lockdown for seven weeks and that only ended a few days ago, so I have been able to get out for a few walks with my fiancée. Where we live, in Gran Canaria, is absolutely beautiful, so the 1km walk that we’re allowed is absolutely amazing.

8 How do you relax?

I’ve been reading, watching movies, playing cards and spending a lot of time with my fiancée. I also am a part of a couple of podcasts, which are good fun, as well as helping me feel fulfilled by producing something. I’m still watching a lot of basketball.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple. I enjoy beer, whiskey and red wine, but don’t get too many chances to take a drink, unless I’m celebrating.

10 What book are you currently reading?

I am currently in the middle of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes – in English; my Spanish isn’t quite there yet.

11 Best Netflix show?

We are currently watching Money Heist (Casa de Papel) and it’s absolutely amazing. As a basketball fan, I’m also really enjoying The Last Dance, the Chicago Bulls documentary that ESPN produced. It’s an absolute must for any basketball fan.

12 Most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself?

I have learnt that I need a fair amount of structure in my life.

13 On a scale of one to 10, where are you in relation to cabin fever, and where do you think you’ll be in June?

I’m not doing too badly right now, probably a three or a four. I think in June I will hopefully feel the same, especially as the lockdown is getting eased slowly here, in Spain, so I’ll be able to get outside more and enjoy the sun.

14 What are the three things you miss most during the lockdown?

My family, my friends and my basketball.

15 Where will you go and what will you do when lockdown is lifted?

I will go to the beach with my friends and team-mates and get some nice food and have a few drinks, probably.

16 Biggest gripe?

I would have to say it’s people not adhering to social-distancing rules. I know it’s difficult, but the longer we stick to the plan, the quicker it will be safe to go outside again.

17 Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

I’m very grateful to have many great people in my life and that my loved ones are safe and healthy. I’m grateful for my health, for being with Anna, for the sport I’m lucky to play every day and for the life it has given me. I will be even more appreciative of the little things like being outside, drinking a nice coffee and enjoying a meal with friends.

18. Any new skills or hobbies?

Anna and I have both taken up a psychology course online, which is very interesting. I've also tried to learn to juggle with three oranges – with little success, so far.

19 What would you like to see change for good when this is over?

For a start, I would like for no-one to ever take the NHS and their workers for granted ever again. I would like the spirit of camaraderie and togetherness that the world has shown during this time to stay for good.

20 Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your mortality?

Having been seriously ill recently, twice in the last year, I have had a lot of time to consider the concept of mortality and I am no closer to any clarity about it. Looking it in the eye is a scary thing, but it does provide some focus on what’s important in life, such as spending time with people you love.