The Belgian athlete found the island to be his ideal place to live and train. He is currently Handbike World Champion
Jonas Van de Steene arrived on the island in 2014 with the aim of participating in the Vuelta a Playa Blanca Handbike, in his first year as a competitor in this sport. It was going to be a small vacation in which he would combine competition and tourism. Nine years later, Jonas is a resident of Playa Blanca, has become Handbike world champion and will be at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
I signed up for a race in 2014 that is held here in Playa Blanca, in February. I came here to do the race for two weeks and I fell in love with the island.
At the age of 25, Jonas suffered a thrombosis that affected his lower extremities and had to adapt to living with a wheelchair as a life partner. He faced the new situation with strength, looking for new incentives in his daily life, and began to practice handbiking. “Handbiking gave me the opportunity to continue playing sports and to get to know different places in the world,” he explains.
The Vuelta a Playa Blanca Handbike was what motivated Jonas to visit Lanzarote. “I came with the idea of staying for two weeks, competing and disconnecting, but I fell in love with the island. Then I started spending more days in winter to prepare for the Playa Blanca race. But the days turned into weeks, months and that brings us up to today when I have my residence here.”
You could say that Lanzarote is very well adapted, not only for sport, but also in general. It gives many people the step they need to always come here to Lanzarote.
Van de Steene considers Lanzarote to be an ideal place to practice any sporting discipline, especially adapted sports. “The island is well adapted for para-cycling athletes, and it also has magnificent weather conditions all year round”.
His sacrifice and perseverance have given him the possibility to be a reference point for sport in the municipality where he lives. That is why the Yaiza Town Hall is supporting him so that he can continue to achieve his sporting goals and be an example of self-improvement for young people.
This year, Jonas won gold at the Paracycling World Championships in Glasgow, earning him a place at the Paralympic Games in Paris 2024. “I’ve reached my top level after a lot of effort, and I’ve achieved it at the best time.
I still have a lot of work to do to get to Paris 2024, but I’m in the best place in the world to train and enjoy the journey until I can fulfil my dream of being in the Olympics”.