Benoit Thibal, the benchmark athlete for disabled sport

An emblematic figure in the world of disabled sport, Benoit Thibal commands respect through his inspiring career in the world of Extreme Sports for People with Reduced Mobility (PRM).

His sporting career, from skiing to motorbike racing for people with reduced mobility (PRM), illustrates the diversity of opportunities available to disabled athletes in France. These disciplines, managed by the various dedicated federations, guarantee a competitive and inclusive framework. We put a few questions to him. He naturally responds.

Transition from Motocross to PRM motorbikes

After an honourable career in motocross, including appearances in the French championships and a place on the Pôle Espoir, Benoit Thibal turned to enduro. As an official Gas-Gas rider, he won 2 French championship titles in 2005 and 2006 before experiencing the most difficult event of his career.

“After my enduro accident, becoming a paraplegic radically changed my life. I had to relearn how to live and practise sport differently. It was in this context that I discovered skiing and karting, two sports in which I could excel despite my disability. However, motorcycling has always been my first passion. Having the chance to compete again, this time as a PRM athlete, was an incredibly gratifying experience. It was like reconnecting with an essential part of myself, a powerful sense of freedom and competitiveness”.

Handisport skier on the slopes

Overcoming the Challenges of Rehabilitation

“Rehabilitation was a journey full of obstacles and discoveries. Every day was a challenge, an opportunity to learn and adapt. Obtaining my state qualification in wheelchairs was a major step forward, proving that physical limitations do not define our abilities. During this period, I explored different adapted sports, rediscovering myself as an athlete. Finally, returning to motorcycling marked a significant stage in my rehabilitation, enabling me to merge my pre-accident passion with my new reality”.

The Importance of Insurance in Risk Sports

“Practising extreme sports such as motorcycling or skiing requires an acute awareness of the risks involved. Appropriate insurance is more than a necessity, it’s a lifeline. It offers financial protection in the event of an accident, which is crucial. As an athlete, knowing you’re covered means you can concentrate fully on your sport without the constant fear of the financial consequences of a potential accident. It’s essential security that allows us to push our limits with confidence”.

Discover the list of sports and disabled sports covered by Assure Ton Sport HERE

Disabled athlete in front of his go-kart

Vision for the Development of Motorcycle Sport for PRMs in France

“France is making rapid progress in the development of motorbike sport for PRMs. In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in interest and participation thanks to inclusive initiatives such as Planète Handisport, of which I am instructor. This is an association that offers motorbike, karting, skiing, wakeboarding and other activities to people with disabilities. These types of programmes offer invaluable opportunities to injured athletes, enabling them to pursue their passions while receiving an education. It’s an exciting development that shows our country’s commitment to inclusion in sport”.

Role as Coach and Mentor

“As a coach in a speed sport-study (Saint-Michel college in Belmont-sur-Rance in Aveyron), my aim is to guide and inspire young athletes. I try to instil in them the importance of safety, proper technical training and self-confidence. This goes far beyond teaching sporting skills. It’s about developing responsible athletes who are aware of the realities of high-risk sport. I want my protégés to benefit from my experience, learn from my mistakes and successes, and be better prepared to face the challenges of the sporting world”.

Benoit Thibal is more than an athlete; he is a symbol of resilience and excellence. His story is a source of inspiration, demonstrating that obstacles can be transformed into opportunities. His contribution to disabled sport and adapted sports for PRM athletes in France is a testament to what can be achieved with determination and passion.

By Charly Colin

PRM athlete on the podium of a disabled motorbike race