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    Bibian Mentel-Spee

    Netherlands Netherlands Para snowboard 29 September 1972

    Utrecht, Netherlands

    a female Para snowboarder


    Human Interest
    Data Value
    Impairment Information
    Type of Impairment Limb deficiency
    Origin of Impairment Acquired
    Further Personal Information
    Family Husband Edwin Spee, son Julian
    Other names Bibian Mentel-Spee
    Occupation Motivational Speaker
    Languages Dutch, English
    Higher education Economics - Randstad Topsport Academy: Netherlands
    Sport Specific Information
    When and where did you begin this sport? She took up snowboarding at age 21, and was back on a snowboard four months after her amputation.
    Why this sport? She was training to compete in snowboarding at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City when she was diagnosed with her illness. She was determined to return to the sport after her amputation, and used it as part of her rehabilitation.
    General Interest
    Injuries In December 2017 and January 2018 she underwent two surgeries to have the C6 vertebra removed from her neck after a cancerous tumour was discovered. She recovered to compete at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. (pyeongchang2018.com, 12 Mar 2018)
    Sporting philosophy / motto "Let difficulties make us better, not bitter." (Facebook page, 09 Jul 2017)
    Awards and honours She was flag bearer for the Netherlands at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014 and 2018. (pyeongchang2018.com, 09 Mar 2018; paralympic.org, 07 Mar 2014)

    In 2017 she received the Strong Woman Award from Dutch company VanHaren. (strongwomenaward.nl, 25 Apr 2017)

    She received the Courage Award at the 2015 Paralympic Sport and Media Awards, in recognition of her efforts to get snowboard included in the Paralympic Winter Games. (paralympic.org, 14 Nov 2015)

    She was named the 2014 Paralympic Athlete of the Year by the Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation [NOC*NSF]. (nos.nl, 16 Dec 2014)

    She received the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. (paralympic.org, 15 Mar 2014; net5.nl, Mar 2014)

    In 2012 she was named a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau in Netherlands. (wintersport.nl, 11 May 2012)
    Other sports She competed in able-bodied snowboard at World Cup level before her amputation. (SportsDeskOnline, 16 Mar 1998)
    Milestones In 2014 she became the first female to win a gold medal in snowboard at the Paralympic Winter Games when the sport made its Games debut in Sochi. (paralympic.org, 15 Mar 2014)
    Impairment In December 1999 she tore ligaments in her right ankle in a fall. After six weeks of rehabilitation she returned to snowboarding and completed the season, although her ankle was still swollen. When the ankle continued to swell she had an X-ray, which showed a spot on her tibia. Three months later it was diagnosed as bone cancer, and she underwent surgery to remove the tumour. Just as she was about to resume training the tumour returned, so she had her lower leg amputated in 2001. The cancer has returned on multiple occasions, including for a ninth time in July 2017. (margriet.nl, 30 Jun 2016; bibianmentel.com, 2015; net5.nl, Mar 2014; road2korea.org, 16 Aug 2017; nos.nl, 15 Jul 2017)
    Other information RETIREMENT
    She retired from competitive sport in October 2018. (paralympic.org, 24 Oct 2018)

    In 2012 she founded the Mentelity Foundation, to encourage children and young adults with a physical impairment to participate in sport. "I was regularly publicised because of my sports performance, and my story was mostly known. I regularly received letters and phone calls with questions from other people with impairments. It often went to very simple things, but it gave me the idea to do something with it." (foryoumagazine.nl, 07 Sep 2016; bibianmentel.com, 2015)

    In 2011 she published 'Met mijn goede been uit bed [With my good leg out of bed]', a book about her life story. (bol.com, Oct 2011)

    She studied an international master in sport management at the Johan Cruyff Institute. (LinkedIn profile, Mar 2014)

    The biographies are regularly updated and new biographies of other Paralympic sports will be added frequently. If you find any mistake in a biography, please contact Rafael Maranhao, IPC Public Relations Senior Manager, at rafael.maranhao@paralympic.org.

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