ALBERT LLOVERA MASSANA DAKAR 2020 PARAPLEGIC CONTESTANT

Llegeix aquest contingut en català aquí

Translated by Álvaro Rodríguez Huguet

“I learned to enjoy myself in every moment of my life”

Albert isn’t a man like any other. At his 18 years old had an accident that made him to end up in a wheelchair. The energy and vitality helped him to create a limitless world, that is so, that he goes for the seventh ‘Dakar’.

What an experience is Dakar 2020! Are you satisfied?
The experience has been great because I’m lucky to have a very good environment. In the cabin we all spoke Catalan, we were all friends and we get along with a group of Nordic people. Everything worked just fine.

What was your biggest concern before doing it?
I was afraid of the cold, and it was really tough. Nights were colder than expected. Regarding the journey, I tried a little bit to not worry about it and see what is coming up every day.

Has it been the toughest of them all?
I don’t know. It didn’t seem like it to me. Every Dakar is tough. At the beginning I think, ”what am I doing here?”, but then, when I’m driving 30 kilometres, I find the answer eventually.

How is your daily life there?
I woke up very early because we had to do a few link kilometres, that went from 25 to 300, and the race started there. A nuisance. When we arrived there the day leg started, and we drove all day long. Once we got to the destination, I did arm and hand rehabilitation, we had dinner and we went to sleep.

And what about the truck adaptation?
Everything is in my hands. In the steering wheel, I’ve got two circles: if I push the first to the feet it accelerates, and the second is the brake.

Six ‘Dakars’… Albert, where is the limit?
I don’t know, I keep experimenting and dreaming. If I have an opportunity, I take it. In fact, this year I wasn’t going to ‘Dakar’, since I had surgery in both hands and I already did the world RallyCross. But De Rooy Iveco team contacted me and I wasn’t willing to let it go.

Alcohol is forbidden over there. Where was the “cava” to celebrate?
The last celebration we were invited to the Holland embassy and, as it isn’t part of the country, we celebrated with alcohol. We did the rest without it. They take things vigorously over there.

An historic ‘Dakar’. After six years participating in the race, Albert, this year, has accomplished the 15th global position in the truck category with the new team of De Rooy IVECO. A dream result.

Leaving the fear for the risk behind, do you born with it or you learn it?
A little bit from both. You already born with it, but the fear always remains inside, and it should be… You must be fast, but you also must be in the track. If I hadn’t a single bit of fear, I wouldn’t last not even three years.

You have a wide sportive career. How did you start it?
I started skiing since I was very little and I was lucky I could participate in the Skiing World Cup, from the Olympic Games of Sarajevo (1984), and in the Skiing World Championships of Bormio. After the accident, I went to United States of America to play in the WNBA, like the NBA but in wheelchair mode. A few years later, I came back to Andorra and begun to work as a draughtsman; but I didn’t like it and that’s why I took the call for the four wheels and the motor.

How did the accident happen?
It was May 15, in 1985. I was doing my descent in Sarajevo for the Skiing World Championships of Bormio. When I was arriving to the finish line a judge passed in front of me and I didn’t see him; there was bad weather. He was so fat and I the other way around, and I was descending full speed. Many things of my body were broken, including dorsal 3, 4 and 5. I was only 18 years old.

Do you think of yourself as a hero?
Not at all. I think I have a privilege as I can do what I do. Heroes are the ones that have to return to their country with their hands empty.

How would you define yourself with few words?
I only need one: awesome. I learned to enjoy myself in every moment of my life.

You are ambassador of UNICEF. Since when?
For a while… It must be 8 years now. I don’t know why, but they chose me, and I’m delighted! Besides, I’m the sole ambassador in wheelchair.

What relationship do you have with the Guttmann?
It is a monastery for us. I go there for they to make me the “kilometres” revision, but I’m a very bad patient. My relationship is very good, and I give talks. I try to light people that just had an accident with hope. I say them that there is no need to Dakar nor being as crazy as me, that would the last straw! But the world still stands, they can have a normal life remaining active.

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