English

From cruel twist of fate to elite sport

Track athlete Abassia Rahmani as part of the KIRCHHOFF Mobility trade fair team.

At first, she thought it was just a cold or maybe even the flu. But when 16-year-old Abassia Rahmani awoke from a coma six weeks later, her lower legs were gone. As a result of a serious viral disease, they had to be amputated to save her life. Today, the 23-year-old from Switzerland is a successful top athlete with a great chance of being able to compete in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this autumn. Abassia Rahmani is sponsored by KIRCHHOFF Mobility. At the Geneva International Motor Show, she supported our trade fair team in the presentation of our adapted vehicles for people with limited mobility.

Editor: After such a cruel twist of fate, how have you managed to regain your positive attitude?

A. Rahmani: In the beginning, I felt awful. Then I saw people who had been injured worse than me and were totally positive. Somehow that flicked a switch in me and I was ready to give 100% again. At first I didn’t want my friends to see me this way, but they just came anyway. I remember being on a skiing holiday with them and, while I was still asleep, they stuck my legs outside in the snow, which obviously looked really strange. They called me and told me to have a look—they thought it was hilarious. That’s when I knew they were relaxed about it. It helped me a lot.

Editor: Do you think you’ve changed?

A. Rahmani: Maybe I think more about how I live my life. But I haven’t changed as a person. My friends would confirm that. If you ask yourself why, why me, then you can’t move on. It will get you nowhere, it leads to negative thoughts, it achieves nothing. My motto is: look ahead, give it all you’ve got.

Editor: How do people react when they see sport prostheses for the first time—here at the trade fair, for example?

A. Rahmani: People are either really enthusiastic and come up to me, or they stop and stare at me, without meaning to. That’s when I start to laugh—and they’re still staring at my legs. At sporting events it’s no big deal. They see that I’m active, I’m not hiding away in my shell. But children are the best. They are really interested and curious. They see me as a superhero and ask: “Where did you get your legs? I want some as well.”

Editor: How did you get into sports?

A. Rahmani: I have always done a lot of snowboarding and athletics. When I started to get into sports again with my prostheses, I met a Paralympian. He told to me to just have a go and fitted carbon-fibre blades onto my legs. They felt great straight away, light and fast. Normal prostheses are more like ski boots. Ever since, my friends and fellow athletes call me the “gazelle”.

Editor: What was it like to drive a car for the first time?

A. Rahmani: At the age of 18 when I got my car, which had been converted by KIRCHHOFF Mobility, it gave me freedom and independence. It was totally cool. And now I’m on the road quite a bit, especially because of sports. There’s no way I could do all of that without a car adapted to my needs. I train six times a week for sprint and long jump, and in the summer there are competitions every week in Switzerland and all over Europe—so I need my car.

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