Piotr’s Paralympic journey started with the Lord of the Rings
“I adapt to the world, rather than the world adapting to me,” he wrote on his Facebook profile.
Having been born without arms and with an impairment to his right leg, Piotr Van Montagu has some of the more obvious challenges to shooting a bow of all the archers on the shooting line at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In a similar fashion to the famous Matt Stutzman, Piotr holds his bow with his foot.
Perhaps Stutzman will need to give up his nickname – the ‘Armless Archer’ – as, for the first time at the Paralympics, there are two athletes using this impressive, and unusual, shooting style.
“It wasn’t the first discipline I took up. In the beginning, I did wheelchair football and then para archery,” the Belgian athlete explained.
He wanted to be like his favourite movie character, Legolas, from the Lord of the Rings.
“I watched some movies and series with archery and I got really interested in that discipline,” he said.
“In 2015, I also saw a para archery competition and took some information about it. Then I decided to begin. It was three years ago, in 2018.”
His progress in such a short space of time is impressive – as his process and technique.
Piotr’s journey started long before the flight to Japan.
He wears a Belgian shirt in Tokyo and carries a Belgian passport. But his name is traditionally Polish, translating to English as ‘Peter’. That’s where he was born.
“I don’t know the city, I just know it was in Poland,” he said of his roots
The 32-year-old is a victim of a medication called Thalidomide. A few decades ago it was used as a painkiller for mothers during pregnancy but it could cause irreversible harm to an embryo.
Early chapters in life weren’t pleasant for Piotr. He lacked love. He talks only briefly about the first years of his life. The period remains mysterious.
“When I was four, I came to Belgium,” he said.
“I got there through adoption. Some Belgium family decided to adopt me through some organisation taking care of people with disabilities.”
Ultimately, it’s led Piotr here to Yumenoshima Park.
“I’m ecstatic to be here,” he told the Belgian Olympic Committee. “I’m going to give it my all – especially because the matches are filmed.”
Competition at the Paralympic Games starts with qualification on Friday 27 August 2021.