I meet Johan the first time in 1988. Then he was the star who came home from Paralympics, Soul. We had been on the same computer education and I had the opportunity to talk to him. I myself had barely begun my sports career and far from Paralympics level like Johan.
We started hanging out and made lots of things together. Once I wanted to take Johan to a special restaurant. The elevator was too small and the restaurant was on the second floor. I said: If we take off the wheels on the wheelchair we get into the elevator. So I start taking off the wheels. When the wheels were gone, I had to keep the entire wheelchair from behind with one hand. So I could give Johan the wheels that he would hold. Then into the elevator. Press the elevator button 2 and balance the wheelchair. On the second floor out of the elevator. Two CP-injured people come out of an elevator. It was the sight of restaurant owners meeting. The one shakes the hell and tries to keep the wheels in his arms. The other is fiddling with one arm to put the wheels on the wheelchair again. I ask if the restaurant is open. This is just one of many anecdotes with Johan.
Johan is a goal-conscious person and his performance in the athletics arena tells clearly about this. World champion, triple European champion, and more. He was back kicker. That means he kicked the wheelchair backwards. His best distance was 800 meters. After as his CP injury makes the muscular movements uncontrolled, he tied his hands and one leg under the wheelchair when he competed.
Eating with a knife and fork is not to be considered. They would just go around in the air and be dangerous. So just that view of a restaurant when he and I were out makes people unable to stop watching. I eat from my plate and I feed Johan from his plate.
This does not prevent Johan from being two-child’s father, author and appreciated public speaker. In my world, he lives a common life like everyone else. Marry, have children and work. Johan is among the few people I met with a completely undisturbed upbringing. Most people have some kind of childhood trauma, but when Johan and I talk about this, there is no such thing in his growth.