Meet Melissa Reid: Bronze Paralympics medallist and Britain’s only surfing World Champion.

With a list of accomplishments that is truly awe-inspiring, Melissa has proven that visual impairment shouldn’t hold you back one bit. Being named Cornwall’s Young Coach of the Year in 2012 and the BBC’s South West Disabled Athlete of the Year in 2013 was just the start. She now holds more medals than you can shake a stick at, and she’s not letting up. We catch up with the decorated  Champion ahead of her trip to the ISA World championships in Pismo beach.

So, Melissa Reid, can you tell us a little about yourself?

So, I’m a former triathlete, I officially retired this year and I’ve been surfing competitively for the last 3 years. Through surfing, I’ve won 3 world titles, 6 British titles, and I’m about to go out and win my 4th world title. Oh, and I’m visually impaired.

Wow 6 British titles, I wish my CV was half as good as yours! I understand you competed at a very high level, can you tell me a little about why you retired from triathlons?

I got a severe back injury which sadly took 9 months to fully get treated, which unfortunately meant that I didn’t have enough time to get match fit before the events started again. I was due to participate in the commonwealth games so it was an extremely difficult decision, however, I had to take into account the risks vs benefits of competing, and in the end I chose to retire from the professional scene.

What is a typical day in the life of a world champion?

Right now? Trying to avoid all the rain on my dog walks… In all seriousness, I try to get in the sea as much as possible, but with winter swells coming in thick and fast it’s not always as easy as I would like. Not being able to drive makes it quite difficult to find alternative sheltered spots, so when the swell is not so favourable, I’m usually trying to get a home gym session in and simulate surfing as much as I can. After that, the afternoons and evenings are usually spent working.

Are there any other sports that you enjoy?

I’m slowly getting back into cycling and running after having a bit of time off. I always enjoy playing on a skateboard but at the moment it’s all about surfing! I love extreme sports and I love pushing the boundaries.

With so many it must be hard to choose, but what do you feel is your greatest achievement so far?

hmm, in what aspect? For life in general, I think it has to be getting all of my coaching qualifications and living a relatively normal life. I’ve always been fortunate to have some pretty cool jobs, usually quite far removed from the typical 9-5 office life.

The Paralympic Games was obviously one of the most amazing experiences and coming away with the Bronze medal in Rio is definitely up there with my greatest achievements. For surfing, the first time in winning the ISA World Surfing was a little bit of a shock, the second time I worked really hard for it, and the third time, I was having a really tough year with injuries, a relationship breakdown and losing triathlon funding. To become a 3x world champion after having to go through all that made it a really special victory.

Ok, so you’re obviously a very inspiring person to many others. Who or what inspires you?


Ah I always hate these questions! I think mostly I just love proving people wrong. When someone says you can’t do something I find the challenge to be a strong motivational drive and being given a reason to push yourself further can definitely get results! There are a lot of people and incredible athletes I look up to, like Carissa Moore who we met in California, it’s really refreshing to have a chat on the beach and realise they are down to earth people considering how much she has achieved. I like people like that.

What does Reframe Your World mean to you?

To me it’s all about changing people’s perceptions about disabilities. For me it’s always about being very open and honest, to ask those questions that people are too embarrassed or too scared to ask. If you make assumptions people tend to get offended.

Alright, final question. What is your favourite thing about Bird?

I love the fact that you have loads of different frames that fit different sized faces and the lenses are great! I always struggle to find sunglasses that fit my tiny little pea head.

You are heading out to California with Surfing England to compete for your fourth world title. How can people support you on your adventures?

Well, even though it’s being considered for the Paralympics, adaptive surfing is currently self-funded. We’re running a fundraiser alongside Surfing England that will go towards fully accessible accommodation and flight costs for the team, staff and surfboards. You can help by making a pledge to support the team, or by sharing this fundraiser with your network.

Also, just getting involved with the World Para Surfing Championships (December 4 – 11). Watch the heats on the ISA website and publicise the event, some of the people surfing absolutely shred and deserve recognition.

Help Team England Para surfers to the World Champs

We are Team England Adaptive/Para surfers & we need your help to get us to 2022 World Para Surfing Championships in the USA, December 4 - 11

For every £10 pledged you will get a Prize Draw ticket and be automatically entered into our Adaptive Team Prize Draw , with some awesome prizes and experiences up for grabs.