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The encouraging message of a paraplegic driver who competes in rallies

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Merche Crespo - published on 02/06/23

Despite using a wheelchair since the age of 19 after a skiing accident, Albert has found impressive ways to stay active.

Despite living in a wheelchair since the age of 19 after a skiing accident while participating in a championship in Sarajevo, Albert has always been active. And most importantly, he has always been excited about life.

He states on his website that “in the end, after all, I feel fortunate not to have had an easy and settled life.”

That is why, from the day after his serious accident in 1985 – he often says that he doesn’t let life’s setbacks slow him down for more than 24 hours – he was already thinking about how to stay in shape. 

A competitive fighting spirit

After a few months playing in the U.S. adaptive basketball league, and despite being no less than a runner-up in that country and runner-up in the world club championship with his team Charlottesville Cardinals, he decided to leave the basketball court and try racing on four wheels. 

Albert then returned to his native Andorra where he prepared to compete in the Peugeot Rally Cup. He got hooked by the experience, and as he was good at it he continued to compete. In fact, he’s the only disabled driver to have competed in the World Rally Championship against able-bodied competitors.  

Competing in the Dakar Rally

Due to his determination and will to overcome, he prepared himself physically and mentally and in 2007 he competed for the first time in the Dakar Rally. His will to live and his dreams always push him far beyond his apparent limitations.

The first two times he took part in this challenging race he did it in a car. Then in 2015, he chose a buggy, and since 2016 he has been doing it in a truck. This year, 2023, was his eighth participation and he came to compete with a truck on the Ford Trucks team alongside his niece Margot.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Albert Llovera (@albertllovera)

Breakdown on the first day

The rally involves 8,500 km (around 5,282 miles) across Saudi Arabia in 14 stages – a challenge not suitable for everyone. But Albert thinks that “limits are made to be overcome,” and adds with good humor, “Except for the speed limit, because in that case they will chase you.”

This year in the preparation for the rally he was accompanied in the cab of the truck by his niece Margot Llobera (spelled with a b), who acted as co-driver. But a failure in a unique, handmade part of their truck forced them to abandon the competition without being able to start the second stage. A stone got caught in the differential housing of their vehicle. 

Life comes with stones on the road that have to be overcome. As Albert says, “Sometimes a bad day carries a load of virtues hidden inside. The merit lies in knowing how to discover them and how to transform the tragedy of a bad day into a triumph.”

So, far from giving up and giving in, after 24 hours Albert Llovera recorded an encouraging video in which he expresses his gratitude for all the support he has received and says he’s already thinking about the next rally. Far from discouraged, he appears enthusiastic and excited about the future.

Setting an example and helping others

Albert is an example of positivism and self-improvement, as we can see. In 2005, he made a documentary that was nominated for the Goya awards of the Spanish Film Academy: Albert Llovera, The Wings of the Phoenix (in Spanish, “Albert Llovera, las alas del Fénix”). In 2011 he wrote his best-selling biography, No Limits.

In addition, he gives motivational talks in which he explains his life, how he has overcome adversity, and his evolution as a person and as an athlete. 

Albert doesn’t hesitate to help other people who suffer some kind of disability in any way he can, so he works with a leading Italian technology company to adapt private vehicles for disabled drivers, and also in providing modifications for public transport. 

He even collaborated with NASA, just after his skiing accident. They contacted Albert to work together in the creation of electro-stimulators, used to prevent muscle atrophy while astronauts travel in space. He also works with UNICEF to help alleviate the lack of mobility and access for the disabled in third world countries. It’s a lot of work to do, but Albert is thrilled to do it!

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