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Interview with Former Scotland Basketball Captain, Simon Flockhart.

Updated: Mar 11







Now anyone who has been involved with Scottish basketball anytime in the last 20 years or so will have probably have heard of Simon Flockhart. I first ran into Simon when I moved back to Scotland in 2011 and started playing in the National League and we had plenty battles down in the post over the years. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Simon continued to played but has recently retired from basketball. I thought it would be interesting to talk to him about his time representing Scotland, his retirement from basketball and life with Parkinson’s. Let’s see what he had to say.




Those who have been around Scottish basketball over the past decade or so will know about your basketball career but for those who haven’t tell us a bit about your basketball journey.


I started playing basketball in high school when I joined Edinburgh Kings as a junior. I hadn’t really played basketball before but, under guidance of good coaches, I progressed very quickly and had a couple of good seasons at juniors. When I stepped up to senior men’s level it didn’t work out at Kings so I joined Livingston Bulls for four seasons. I re-signed for Kings in 2000 and was part of the team that won 9 championships in 10 years as well as 7 Scottish cups and 3 Play Off Championships. In my 23 years I won 26 major titles. Also, between 2007 and 2016, I played in the Scottish national team for 4 European Championships, winning 55 caps and 1 bronze medal.





What was it like to play for Scotland senior men’s team and what competitions did you compete in?


Playing for the national team was always an honour. The intensity was a lot higher than at national league level. I played in 4 European Championships – Edinburgh, Malta, San Marino and Gibraltar. Preparation for tournaments was intense but it was always good to play alongside guys you played against at league level. I always had a great sense of pride representing Scotland especially as captain in Gibraltar.






How important would you say strength and conditioning is for basketball players?


Strength and conditioning is always important at any level. Basketball is a very dynamic and demanding sport requiring a wide skill set. Strength and conditioning is key alongside the fundamental skills required of basketball. As a player, you need to play to your strengths depending on your position. As a Centre, it was crucial to always be strong and balanced.



When you were playing what did an average week look like in the gym?


When I was playing I was normally training with the team twice a week, in the gym twice a week and then playing at the weekend in addition. Each training session was normally 2 hours long. With the national team a full training programme was always in place and a lot more intensive in the build up to tournaments and international games. Recovery time was also important after practice sessions and games to ensure everyone was well rested and assist with injury prevention.



I know you recently retired from competitive basketball. Was this a tough decision? Do you miss it?


I retired in 2019. It was a massive decision which I didn’t take lightly for a number of reasons. After playing 23 years in the men’s league, I decided the time was right based on various factors but I was glad I made the decision to go out on my own terms while I was still at the top of my game. Yes, I do miss basketball but I am more involved in coaching the younger generation at City of Edinburgh Basketball Club and I am enjoying passing on my experience and guidance to up and coming stars in the sport.



You were diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in your 30s I believe, which is a young age for Parkinson's. How did that come about?


I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018 when I was 38. It came about after a long term injury in my back which wasn’t getting any better with physio or treatment. At this stage I decided to look into it more and went to my GP and was referred to a neurologist to check for underlying damage. At my initial examination the consultant believed it could be Parkinson’s which wasn’t something I had considered due to my age. After having an MRI and DAT scan this confirmed the consultant’s suspicions and I was diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson’s Disease. This obviously came as a massive shock. I still continued to play basketball however for a further 2 seasons despite my diagnosis but ultimately it was a factor in my retirement from the sport.




For most of us that don’t really know a lot about Parkinson's can you tell us a bit about it and what signs and symptoms people should look out for?


Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the specific part of the brain that produces dopamine in the body and gets worse over time. Around 145,000 people live with Parkinson’s in the UK. And it's the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. The 3 major symptoms are slowness of movement, stiffness and soreness and tremors although there are more than 40 different symptoms. Parkinson’s affects everyone differently. It is the second most common neurological disease in the world behind Alzheimer's. If anyone has any concerns or experiences these symptoms I would always recommend they go to see their GP.




What’s your relationship with the gym like now? Does working out and resistance training help with Parkinson's? How often do you workout?


Since retiring I no longer attend the gym however, I have tried alternative methods of keeping fit such as staying involved with basketball as much as possible, cycling, swimming and yoga. All forms of exercise help the symptoms of Parkinson’s to some degree but this differs between individuals and it is important to find what works best for you. I have personally found exercise a significant help in reducing my symptoms.



For others who have Parkinson’s, do you have any advice or tips about how you manage it?


Exercise is definitely key however everyone’s journey is different. It is important to adapt to what works for you personally and stick to a routine. Most importantly, follow the advice given by the medical specialists.


I would like to thank Simon for his time and insight into something many people might not know a lot about. If you would like to know more about Parkinson’s please go to https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/ for more information. As always, a big thanks to my readers and followers. Don’t forget to get in touch and make sure to follow on Instagram for latest articles, workouts and information.


Keep evolving,


Coach E