Sport - my life and passion

Swimming, badminton, boccia.

Both my childhood and adulthood were sport-related. During my school-years, I have professionally practiced swimming at “Tęcza Kielce” sport club, with small and bigger successes at local and regional level. After finishing my career as an athlete I was still active in this sport as an youth class coach. Later on I became fascinated with badminton which provided me with satisfaction both from the game as such and from victories that I made at national-level tournaments. All this lasted till the day when my fourteen-year long adventure with this sport ended due to my accident.

Accident...

It took place in 2010, while I was skiing in Austria. I am alive thanks to quick and effective rescue. But due to cervical spinal cord injury my hands, legs and torso were paralyzed.
The accident have changed my life drastically. I have spent first eight months after the accident at hospitals in Konstancin, Czerwona Góra as well as at Cardiology Ward in Kielce. Medical prognosis was not too optimistic, it made me realize that I can spend the rest of my life lying in bed, being completely dependent on others. Luckily, under this difficult time, I felt the continuous support of my family and friends. They made it possible for me to believe that this is not the end and that even partial improvement is worth fighting for.
Thanks to intensive physical therapy I began using wheelchair and fighting for subsequent levels of independence. This is when the chance to leave my home even for just a few hours in order to visit my friends playing badminton had occurred and I obviously took it. I couldn’t live without my passion, so I visited sports hall where my friends were practicing more and more often, offering them my years-long experience and knowledge of this sport.

Boccia

However, my life still lacked the element of my own sport activity and competition. Then I had found boccia - one of the very few Paralympic sports in which I can compete “with my level of disability”. Since October 2014 I have begun practicing, first at home, this sport. Successes were relatively quick to appear, because already the same year I was the runner-up at national championships. 2015 brought victories in qualifying tournaments, winning national cup, advancing to first place in national ranking and finally nomination to the national team. Subsequent years brought victories at national level as well as international-level competitions, among others, 4th place in the Czech Republic, in Slovakia or participation in Regional Open - 6th place, World Open in Spain - 10th place and European Championships in Portugal. Year after year I succeed in advancing in the world ranking - currently I am on the 50th place. For my achievements in sport I have received a few commendations and awards from the authorities of my commune, mayor of Kielce as well as from Marshal of the Świętokrzyskie province. In 2017 I had the opportunity to acquire instructor’s experience from the prominent Spanish coach Miguel Angel Lopez Vidal. I will certainly use the knowledge I gained as boccia coach and player.

What’s next...

My priority is to further advance in the world ranking and to knock at the door of the world’s leaders. However, I cannot achieve this without intensifying my practice process for it to resemble the training regime of those best in the world, that is about 6-7h per day, 6 times a week. As a consequence I obviously have to look for money to cover my travel expenses as well as to search for assistance during training sessions. What is more, due to the fact that I want to accumulate further ranking points, I must find means to cover my participation in international competitions. I’m optimistic and I strongly believe that I’ll succeed in becoming the first Polish BC4 player who will qualify to the Paralympic Games.

Additionally, I would like to pass the passion for this sport on to other people who, due to their disability, are confined to their homes, in order for them to believe that they still are independent - even if now their independence takes on a slightly different form.

Andrzej Janowski