One Woman. One Man. One Kiss.
Aslippery rock was Mateja’s downfall on a hiking trip with her family 15 years ago. She lost her footing for a fraction of a second, fell and damaged her spinal cord. “I was paralysed instantly,” she says, thinking back to the accident. It was a tough diagnosis for a teenager to deal with. “It hit me very hard. But looking back now, I think my family suffered more than I did. During my six months of rehab, I focused on my recovery and reorganised my life. You could say I was too busy to get depressed.” Other people, though, felt sorry for her: “They didn’t understand what life could be like for me or what I would be able to do still.”
Just a year after her accident, Mateja started playing table tennis. “I fell in love with the sport straight away,” she says of her beginnings as a professional table-tennis player. Then there were the Paralympics. “For 10 years, the sport was the most important thing in my life.”
Then, a couple of years ago, she lost interest. “Then I met Peter two years ago and things changed. It was time for a new chapter in my life,” says Mateja, a translator. She and Peter have been together for two years now. “The week of the Wings for Life World Run, Peter (a croupier at a casino) was working nights, but he was still adamant we would run the race together.” They managed 13km before the Catcher Car caught them. “This year was the first time we’d take part. We didn’t have a goal; it was just for fun.” And during the race, there was that kiss. But what prompted it? “The atmosphere was so relaxed, it just felt right. That’s why it happened.” Next year, they both want to compete again, but they don’t know where, yet, though.
Do you also wanna be part of the Wings for Life World Run in on May 8, 2016? Register here and run for those who can´t.