Simon Mantalya: ‘”What’s your why?” This is a question that everyone needs to be able to answer to themselves. Why do you do what you do? Whether it’s about competing in a sport, exercising or having the job you have. It is what is going to determine your actions, and your actions will in many cases define who you are.
For me it all started when I was ten years old. Life changed in the blink of an eye for me when I was in an accident and lost all vision in my right eye. From being an active outgoing kid doing all kinds of sports I was now handicapped. And as a ten year old boy, I accepted that label. Doctors told me that I could never do this and that. I had to wear protective glasses all the time. I had difficulties making new friends, talk to girls or make eye contact with anyone , afraid to be judged by how my eyes looked.
In this traumatic time professional basketball player Eddie Shannon who played for my home towns team at the time came to visit me and my family. Eddie was half-blind too. Years later I understood the meaning of his visit and the words he had to say. ”Don’t let yourself be defined by this”, ”If I could do it so can you”…
I want to spread the same message that he did to me that day 18 years ago. Looking back I am extremely proud of that 10 year old boy. With the help of extreme hard work, willpower, dedication, friends, family and community he is now a professional athlete in one of the toughest sports in the world.
Simon’s Dad Build him a handstand ramp
Not one of the best handicapped athletes in the world. One of the best, period. I have an amazing girlfriend and a great network of friends and close ones.
That 10 year old boy is my ”why”. He is the reason I get up and train for hours every day. He is the reason I make all these sacrifices. Because I don’t want to let him down. I want to be his hero. Because if I can do it, so can he.
Don’t let the problems of the world define who you are. Listen to the words of encouragement and let them grow.
I hope my story can encourage and inspire someone out there who is having a hard time or has had an traumatic experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to me if you need to. Because if I can do it, so can you.
Be yourself. /Simon’