The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics were postponed until 2021, but that hasn’t discouraged Niels Vink.
When we first discovered on Niels’ story, he just needed to win a few more international wheelchair tennis tournaments and raise enough money to get to the 2020 Paralympics. Since then, Niels has qualified to participate, but his dreams are on hold while his fundraising continues.
Competitive youth sports aren’t cheap. Participating in competitions that give Olympic qualifications is even more expensive and requires a lot of travel. Luckily for Niels, his family and friends turned to crowdfunding to help him get there. When Niels got serious about wheelchair tennis, they started the Niels on Wheels foundation and began seeking the best training.
This is the story of how one courageous teenager is achieving his dream of competing in the Paralympics and using GiveWP to help him get there.
Who is Niels Vink?
Niels was born in December of 2002. At the age of one, he came down with meningococcal sepsis (a bacterial infection) and nearly died. He lost both of his legs, fingertips and various patches of skin as a result. Growing up, he felt no different than all the other kids and remained positive about the possibilities his future holds.
When he was nine, his mom took him to the 2012 Paralympics in London. Surrounded by athletes bound to wheelchairs just like him, he knew his dream was to participate. Sports are Niels’ passion and a lack of limbs would not stop him from playing.
Now Niels attends Dr. Knippenbergcollege, a local high school in Helmond, Netherlands, and is in the process of achieving his dream. He tried several other Paralympic sports before he fell in love with wheelchair tennis. Niels receives the best training in the Netherlands from the KNLTB, a national tennis club, and his own personal trainer.
The Road to the Tokyo
2020 2021 Paralympics
For the past five years, Niels has trained intensely on a daily basis. His hard work has earned him a position of 6th (at the time of writing) in the world in the Quad Category. This position is what qualifies him to participate in the 2021 Paralympics. Only the top eight in the world are allowed to compete.
Last year in December, Niels won the junior world championship for wheelchair tennis in Tarbes, France. His next few tournaments were scheduled in a variety of places across Europe and in Australia. Many of them were cancelled due to the Pandemic.
Even after reaching 6th in the world, Niels still needs to fund his trip to Tokyo. The overall cost of this adventure to the Paralympics is estimated to cost about €30,000.00.
“This money is used on travel fees to all the different international tournaments Niels has to join to climb the rankings, and also on training materials and preparations. Once Niels on Wheels raises more than the goal, the foundation will use that money to support people like Niels to chase their dreams.”
Since 2017, when the campaign began, Niels has raised over €16,620.00 (as of January 2020). Overall, it’s an impressive result! We’re inspired by the passion Niels has for tennis and his plan to help others once he reaches his own goal.
The Pandemic Postpones the 2020 Olympics to 2021
Unfortunately, after our initial discovery of Niels’ journey to the Paralympics, the world faced a crisis unlike any other we’ve seen in recent history. As a result, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were postponed until 2021. All other qualifying tournaments have also been cancelled, leaving the current world rankings as they are until further notice.
That means, no one can take Niels’ spot from him for the 2021 Paralympics right now either. However, it doesn’t mean Niels’ training is on hold. Competitive tennis isn’t an option right now, but Niels still trains daily at home.
He hopes that Coronavirus will end soon enough for him to achieve his lifelong dream of competing in the Paralympics in 2021.
“I hope everyone will continue to support me,” concludes Niels. “And I’d like to add something, because as far as I’m concerned it can’t be repeated often enough: please stay inside and keep that one and a half metres away. That’s a little more than two tennis rackets, but just make it three, just to be sure. Stay healthy and watch out for each other. Then I promise I’ll do everything I can to hit back extra hard in 2021.”
We’ll be watching for Niels to return to the tennis court as soon as sports are back up and running.
A Fundraising Website for a Paralympic Competitor
To raise money online, Mediacooks donated a website to Niels on Wheels in 2017. They use GiveWP for online donations through WordPress and a plugin called Weglot to translate their site from Dutch to English.
Now the site is more accessible to people from all over the world, which makes it easier for more people to read Niels’ story and donate.
Help Niels Become the Next Wheelchair Tennis Champion at the Paralympics
The Tokyo 2021 Paralympics are coming up faster than it seems. Niels needs your help to get there. Read his story, learn about his mission, and give to his cause on the Niels on Wheels website.
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