(Antonio is an adaptive athlete and adaptive sports coach from Hamburg, Germany)
My name is Antonio Hoempler and I was in a snowboarding accident in 2009 that broke my back. Since the accident, I’ve used a wheelchair, but before the accident I was an avid street skateboarder, downhill skateboarder and snowboarding instructor. I love adrenaline. After my injury, I knew I had to find a way to get back on the board and discover new adaptive activities to get back to doing what I love.
Over the years, and with the help of many people, I customized a durable handcycle with which you can ride down stairs safely to catch trains at inaccessible train stations for example. We also built the first tall wheelchair to be at eye level with other people at concerts and festivals. And I use a brake that prevents your wheelchair from rolling forward so you can climb stairs with the help of a seatbelt.
In sports, I started sit-skiing, sit-wakeboarding and kitesurfing and then I invented a binding that lets you ride a longboard with a wheelchair. In 2017, I went on to build a seat and leg holder onto a longboard and invented the sport of adaptive downhill (without brakes). It is just like sit-skiing but on concrete and you brake by drifting/sliding your skateboard just as abled-bodied people do in downhill skateboarding.
In 2020, I went to the biggest downhill event in Europe and rode down a 5km long mountain road with 18 hairpin corners, along with the best downhill skaters from all over Europe. I hope people in other sit-sports pick up this sport. It is just as amazing as sit-skiing, if not better. Here’s a video of a run down a mountain to see this sport in action: Watch
Apart from continuing my studies of psychology this year at University, I still want to travel and do sports as well. Since 2018, I’ve been teaching sit-wakeboarding with an inclusive water sports school in Hamburg, Germany and I offer courses for people who want to learn sit-longboarding for free.
I want to keep developing sit-longboarding and build the complete gear so that people can buy it one day, just like mono-ski gear for snow sit-skiing. I also want build on the adaptive action sports community and show people just how much fun adaptive board sports can be. And at the inclusive water school, I want to improve my kite-surfing and start wave-ski surfing in time as well.
My latest project is really exciting. I’m working on building a seat into a wave-ski and I can’t wait to finally surf some open waves again. Check my social links to follow my progress.
– Follow Antonio on IG: www.instagram.com/antonio.hoempler
– Follow Antonio on Youtube here
– Watch a biopic short film about Antonio here