One of the inspiring women we interviewed was Hannelore Vens. A real power woman who was able to pick up the thread after a tragic accident. The story of a woman who is badly scarred and laughs at life with all the ups and downs that come along. Someone who was inspired by others and at the same time inspires others.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Hannelore Vens and I am twenty-nine years old. Four and a half years ago, I was severely scarred on my way to work. Since then, I have done everything to be able to do as much as possible by myself and to try to go outside again. Believe me, when I say, it really is not easy to do that when you’re severely scarred.
For me, this means that I have to walk the streets with two prosthetic legs. You can’t help but notice how often people look weird at you. Every day, I had to try and find ways to become independent again, to be able to do everything myself. With a disability like mine, it is absolutely not easy to do certain things that are actually so simple for others.
How do you think women can support each other?
When you see a woman being harassed on the streets, whether or not by men, I think it’s important that you intervene! Try to help or stay in the neighborhood if necessary, so that you can make sure the situation doesn’t get out of hand. It happens so often that women are harassed on the streets and that everyone just walks by.
Even though we don’t know each other, after all, not every woman can know every other woman, we still have to stand up for each other. Far too often, we are considered inferior by some men. That is why we have to stand up for each other as women, even if we are strangers to each other.
Who is your ultimate inspiring woman?
There are several women who inspire me, not just one. Mainly athletes inspire me. Fanny Lecluyse, a swimmer, is one of them. Furthermore, Marieke Vervoort has inspired me for four years now, because she’s a wheelchair athlete and just like me, she does top-class sport with a disability. Women who play top-class sports play sports in a world that revolves mainly around men, certainly at the level of top-class sports.
The media attention is mainly focused on male athletes, and that’s why I think it is very important that more women participate in top-class sports, just like I have been doing for three months now.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten and whose advice was it?
My best friend said to me a while ago, when I had just started playing top-class sports: “Look, as a professional athlete you have to be selfish”. That’s really hard for me, especially because I am a very caring person. I constantly want to help everyone and I do that so often that I actually completely forget about myself. I want to help everyone and because I always have to go from one place to another, I rarely have time to eat or sleep in peace. If I want to improve myself in top-class sports, I will have to learn to rest and take time for myself. I have to be selfish every now and then.
How do you take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally?
I try to plan a moment of rest every day. Due to my strict sports schedule, my workouts usually start very early in the morning and I don’t get home until late in the evening. So, I have to take moments during the day to rest or actually sleep, so that I can recuperate from the too short nights between workouts. I also try not to plan too many things in one day, so I can take enough time for all the activities.
What is your comfort food?
My comfort food is chicken curry, strange but true I know. I don’t think anyone has given that as an answer! For about a year now, chicken curry has been my favorite comfort food. In the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening, I can really enjoy a sandwich with chicken curry at any time of the day.
What is your favorite moment of the day?
Without a doubt, breakfast. When I get up, I immediately get hungry. I think it’s also because of all the sports I play that I have a fast metabolism, so when I get up I have to eat immediately. And then during breakfast, I think: “Yes, I can dispatch my first calories to exercise!”
What is your feel-good song?
Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves is great. I know it’s a pretty old record and I’m still young, but that song was once used at a school party when I was a kid and since then I immediately start dancing when I hear it.
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