"The way to the top is hard, but it's open "

Professional skier Rheinhard Sampl fell so hard during training in 1996 that the then 23 year old broke two discs in his back and was paralysed. This young sportsman however never gave up and shortly after the rehabilitation he began to play sports again. His determination paid off: He achieved world wide success in wheelchair basketball, monoskiing and on the hand-bike. Along with this he brought out his own fashion brand.

When he is asked about which hobbies he has, he answers: "Bungee jumping, go-carting, driving quads, river rafting, water skiing, and parachute jumping", the main thing, thrilling and fast. The man who said this is in his mid thirties and sits in a wheelchair. As the son of a ski teacher he has made something out of his life. Despite of his disability, he is somewhat of an "institution" in international ski sport and as a successful entrepreneur he can also afford to take his Porsche for a few laps around the track now and again.

Falling is nothing to be ashamed of

"It wasn't easy after the accident." Reini Sampl remembers the shock as he was told that he would never walk again. And the early days of rehabilitation in the Reha clinic in Bad Härring where he had to learn to master simple every day tasks from new.

As far back as he can remember he has been skiing at competitive level. This ambition helped the athlete to gain the upper hand in the difficult time after the accident. It must move forwards again. After hard training and over-time in therapy, Reini Sampl could leave the rehab centre after only 8 weeks. Shortly afterwards, he also managed to be able to live independently at home. But just getting by didn't correspond with his disposition.

The new career

So he came back to sport. Firstly he sought a new challenge in wheelchair basketball in Salzburg and with the team he won several Austrian national championships as well as a 5th place at the Europacup. Then the ski slopes started calling him back again and he tried his hand at mono-skiing. In his first season he finished under the top 10 in the EC Cup. This meant a promotion in to the national team and from then on he was competing on the world cup series. At the world championships in Turin in 2002 he finished 3 times in fourth position.

Record after record

In the summer he keeps himself fit on the hand-bike. Naturally, his immeasurable determination also did not go here unrewarded. Reinhold Sampl was runner up in the Austrian national hand-bike championships and even won some international events.
In the last years he conquered every mountain pass in Austria and set a new world record together with Olli Anhofer over 340km during "the Tour de Mur" in 2001.

At the astonishment of other people about his endless energy and his lust for life he has only one answer: I see in sport not only the possibility to determine my own future, but more so to show that even though life indefinitely changes because of a disability, it's still valuable and worth living

Author: Cornelia Barthel - MyH