“What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.”
“This is the impressive story of the only 27-year-old Monique van der Vorst. At this young age she won 2 Silver Medals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, 3 times the title of World Champion, 6 times European Champion and she has 8 National road race titles and 2 on time trial. Monique won the overall ranking for the EHC for 5 consecutive years. She has also won almost every race in which she participated, nationally as internationally. Van der Vorst won also the World Championships Ironman in 2009 with a new record: 11h 10m 13. In addition to pursuing her studies at university, Monique is a real professional athlete, who lives for her sport!
On top of her achievements, Monique plays an important role in inspiring many disabled people around her. She has proven that we have got to look at the ability, not the disability and be optimistic in life. Therefore, Monique gives demonstrations of handcycling in rehabilitation centres to show people the importance of sports, even when having a physical disability. As recognition for her sports and social achievements, the mayor of Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, her hometown, has awarded Monique the city medal of honour. After her Silver Medals, that she won during the Paralympic Games in Beijing, Monique Van der Vorst got her own place in her hometown Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel: Monique van der Vorstplein.
Monique van der Vorst was born on 20 November 1984 in Gouda and has been in a wheelchair since 1998, when her left leg was paralysed and her right knee stopped working properly. Due to a car accident in 2008, Monique got an incomplete Spinal Cord Injury at T4.
During her rehabilitation period, she was introduced to handcycling. From the very first moment, Monique tried a handcycle she has been in love with the bike, ‘I get so much power from the bike, I feel really free’. Monique started practising on an attachable handcycle and shortly after that she took on serious training.
In spring 2000, Monique participated in her first attachable handcycle race. Quite surprisingly she won the race as a debutant, but most importantly, she saw the fixed frame handcycles and fell in love with them due to the speed they can offer.
In 2001, Monique got her own fixed frame handcycle and started competing in many races and not without success. In 2001, she became the European Champion on the Road Race and T
ime Trial and she won the European Handcycling Competition (EHC) for the first time.
But things changes when Monique got hit by a car on the 2nd of May. She was driving her car and the other car didn’t see her and smashed her firmly. Monique had to go to the hospital and they concluded a Whiplash. It tooks 6 months of recuperation to get back on the track. This was too late for the World Championships in Bordeaux. She was still suffering from her Whiplash, but she had to participate at this event to keep her nomination for the Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008. She did great and finshed 3rd in the time trial, that was enough to make to keep her nomination!
Also,due to her good results in 2009, Monique got chosen as disabled athlete of the year 2009 at the National Sports Gala.
2010 Started great with a win during the Miami and Melbourne Marathon. I was in my best shape ever, but I could never think 2010 would be such a thriller and end like this. Again I got involved in an accident, followed by a long period in the hospital. I got a lot spasm in my legs and suddenly I felt some twinklings in my paralysed legs. It was so strange because I hadn’t felt anything in my left leg for 12 years. Later I could move my legs a bit and from that moment I really tried everything to get my legs working again. I spend months in the hospital and rehab centre, but now I am walking again after being in a wheelchair for almost 13 years! To be continued…
2011 was a year of discovering new things, overcoming challenges and still a lot of rehabilitation. To take time for herself, Monique rode here bicycle from Italy to The Netherlands. It took her 20 days and was a trip of 3086km and 28500 altitude meters. She realized during this trip that sports lives in her body and soul. 2011 would end better than she ever could imagine! The professional Womens Team from the Rabobank offered her a contract and she will be back in the sports! Monique has still a lot to learn, but she will go for it!”
For more information please visit http://www.moniquevandervorst.com, the official site of Monique, from where we gathered all the information presented.