Getting to know our athletes – Robert Wydera (POL) 

Over the forthcoming weeks, PVE will be giving the spotlight to the key figures on the court: the players themselves.

Each paravolley athlete boasts a unique story to share. Through a series of interviews, we will have the opportunity to gain deeper insight into the experiences of some of Europe’s most distinguished paravolley athletes, as they guide us through their personal journey in the sport, expressing their passion for the game along the way.

After talking to Thibault Lefrancois from France, Francesca Bosio from Italy, Mirzet Duran from Bosnia Herzegovina and Lena Gabršček from Slovenia, we now head off to Poland to meet Robert Wydera!

So in love with the sport, Robert used to travel 100 km one way to be able to practice paravolley.

How did he start with sitting volleyball, does he have any success in other sports, and what his biggest achievement has been so far – read on in the interview below.

What was your first experience of sports, and sitting volleyball in particular?

I was born with a disability (Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency) but nevertheless, I was very active and passionate about sports as a child. I had been even playing volleyball as a member of a school team before the WZSN “START” Wrocław club for athletes with disabilities found me, and invited me to try sitting volleyball. When the first session ended, I felt that I wanted to continue, and after one year of commuting for training sessions 100km one way by train, I decided to move from my hometown – Kluczbork to a high school with dormitory in Wrocław, in order to continue my sitting volleyball adventure.

What made you decide to become a sitting volleyball athlete?

Sitting volleyball was very attractive to me as it allowed me to become a professional athlete and to make my childhood dreams come true despite my disability. This dynamic, technical, collaborative and visually attractive game in a short period of time let me adjust, and develop as an athlete and as human as well. This discipline is special because it is fully integrative and adaptable for everyone.

When did you begin playing in ParaVolley Europe competitions, and what do you remember from your first competition?

My first ParaVolley Europe competition was in 2011 at European Championships in the Netherlands. It was a great experience and privilege because I was 14 years old back then. I can still remember a fierce match against Serbia which we won 3-2, and we finished on the 6th place overall. Personally, I didn’t have many chances to play, but being able to watch this high level of competition and feel the atmosphere was amazing and for sure, it convinced me to follow the sitting volleyball path.

What is your personal experience of sports as a professional para-athlete, and what does it mean to you?

Being a professional paraathlete is not an easy thing to do. It is a lifestyle that requires a lot of commitment, perseverance and sacrifice. But, at the same time, it means everything to me – representing my country, competing against the best paraathletes in the world, overcoming obstacles and striving for greatness. All this is making my childhood dreams come true. I would not change it for anything else, for sure.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I consider Poland’s 4th place at the European Championship 2023 as my biggest sitting volleyball achievement. Additionally, being awarded there as Best Receiver is a great distinction. Beside sitting volleyball I also compete as a paracanoeist and my biggest achievement is also 4th place at World Cup 2023. But it does not satisfy me, and I keep on training, hoping to win some medals at international competitions in the future.

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