Hailing from the principality of Andorra is the epic rally driver Albert Llovera. Known for his athletic abilities and his smoldering Spanish good looks, Albert is above all known for his tenacity in the face of some serious lifechangers.
We won’t give it all away, but he went from a star Olympic alpine skier to a paraplegic in the blink of the eye. He knows exactly what it’s like to have everything in the world then have it all taken away. But his story isn’t about loss, it’s about self-reinvention.
Why he’s fearless
Growing up in Andorra, Albert’s life was picture perfect. He loved to ski and soon found himself on the competitive circuit in his teens. He had some serious talent on the slopes. Huge. And when he was 17, Albert was the youngest person to ever compete in the Winter Olympics, competing in the 1984 games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
He had a good showing at his first Olympics (no medals, but still a good run), the next year he found himself at the European Ski Cup. But all didn’t go so well at this event. While in a descent, Albert crashed and broke his back at the lower level. He became a paraplegic, and out went his career on the slopes.
Devastated, Albert had an innate desire to continue competing in any sport at a elite level and he wasn’t interested in any adapted sports. Instead, he found a sport he could still do just as good as able-bodied athletes, and that was motor racing.
Two years after his injury, Albert entered his first motor sport event – the Championship of Andorra – a competition for quad bikes, and by 1989 he was winning rally races, winning the Peugeot Rally Cup in Andorra that year. Throughout the nineties, Albert improved his speed abilities, ranking high in the Speed Championships of Catalonia on numerous occasions.
In 2001, something amazing happened, Albert scored a sponsorship with Fiat, and his career was never the same. Since, he’s competed in the Junior World Rally Championship, finishing 7th in Rally Finland in 2010 and 8th in the Tour de Corse. Albert raced in a Fiat Punto S1600 when he started and now races in a Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000.
Currently, Albert is getting ready for Dakar 2015, an off-road race in January that crosses three counties – Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. He participated in Dakar 2014 as well. This time around he’ll be driving a brand new vehicle, an Optimus Buggy, which he’s currently testing at a racetrack in Rome, making sure the hand-controls are accurate.
This 16-day race in South America is huge. The Dakar rally race spans a massive distance, 8,500 kilometers, and traverses deep canyons, sandy valleys with little to no roads to speak of. This race is the definition of epic. Watch a video of Albert at Dakar 2014
When he’s not racing, Albert is a father to his daughter Cristina and he’s been able to test pilot the Ekso exoskeleton. He also hobnobs with celeb friends like Javier Bardem, volunteers for UNICEF (helping deliver wheelchairs to those in need) and gives motivational speeches for TEDx, schools and businesses and beyond.
Must be the life; traveling internationally, driving expensive cars, wonderful family, famous friends, Albert shows the world that being paralyzed doesn’t mean you can’t live a full, cool and dare-we-say even enviable life.
Yup, it’s true.
How have you reinvented yourself post-injury?
- Visit his site: Albert Llovera Official
- Watch his documentary: “Las Alas del Fenix” (“Wings of the Phoenix”)
Watch the videos!