• Ridge Michiels

Jef is counting down to the Paralympics

Jef Vandorpe, law student and wheelchair tennis player

“I wasn’t 100% certain whether I had qualified for the Paralympics. The qualification date for wheelchair tennis was scheduled in mid-June. I had a good outlook before the lockdown measures were enforced. In wheelchair tennis, you don’t qualify during a tournament. Slots are awarded based on your ranking. Only the top 48 players may participate in the Paralympics. Our Belgian federation has added another criterion: you need to be in the Belgian top 20 to qualify.

Around mid-March I was 15th, meaning I had bagged a ticket to Tokyo. Since then, the entire competition has been shut down. All tournaments are cancelled until 12 July and I expect this date to be extended. This means that I will have to earn all the points that I earned this year again next year. I will really have to defend my position. But I’m not panicking: I have a whole year to prepare!

I try to train as much as I can. It’s not that easy because I currently don’t have a clearly-defined goal. But I’m making the best of it and I also realise that this situation has its benefits. Granted, a whole part of my life has ground to a halt but I do so much more than wheelchair tennis. This is a great opportunity to make some time for other pastimes.

I like to read anything and everything, so I spend a lot of my time reading. At the moment, I’m reading various myths and legends from Norse mythology. Next up is Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago about the abuses in the concentration camps of the former Soviet Union after World War II. As you can see, I’m a firm believer in self-improvement, taking advantage of all the free time that I have on my hands. It’s not that we can do much else now that we’re all in our kot, right?

The future feels like one big question mark, which is why I don’t try to look ahead too much. But hey, going with the flow is also nice!”

Follow Jef on his journey to a Paralympic medal on Facebook and Instagram.


This article was written for fromyourkot.be, an online platform that was created in times of corona at the request of the University of Antwerp.

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