Seeing the person.


For one year, a camera filmed me and my life for the documentary “Gold – You can do more than you think”. Looking back on it all was emotionally exhausting. My accident in 1991, the diagnosis – paraplegia. The realization that nothing would be the same again. I relived everything. But today, I don’t see the day of my accident as the turning point in my life – that came eleven years later on the day I took the decision to return to competitive swimming. Despite my disability. Or perhaps I should say, because of my disability.

The first few meters in the pool were an emotional rollercoaster. It felt so good to compete in water again. But is this where I belong? With disabled people? One second I just wanted to get out of there, the next I felt better than I had in a long time.

I swam the second-best time. It was fantastic. I realized just how much I had missed competitive sport, which had been part of my life before the accident. I was suddenly alive again. Coming to terms with the fact that you have a handicap is one thing. But being proud and passionate about sport even though you have a disability is completely different. I learnt how to do this – very quickly, in fact – because our sport is no different from “normal” sport. It is about people, not about their disabilities. It is about passion and achievement, the challenges and goals you set yourself and want to reach, whatever it takes. The more I trained, the better I felt. I won my first gold medal at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. And more were to follow.

“Gold” starts in cinemas in February 2013. The film also follows the careers of blind marathon runner Henry Wanyoike from Kenya and Australian wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley. We are successful athletes with a handicap; we have won gold. We are happy with our lives. This is the message that unites us and that we want to tell the world. Life with a disability is not bad. Just different.


Page related tools