Niels Cardinaels: Its scooters or nothing at all

SkatePro team rider Niels Cardinaels’ life revolves around riding scooters. Six years ago a terrible accident almost put an end to the young Belgian’s career. But thanks to his stubborn mind and a lot of hard work, Niels is still doing what he loves the most, riding scooters.

Niels is standing on a table set at the second floor of a shopping mall. On his left side, there’s a nice and smooth concrete floor, on the other side a metal rail, and just beside that a gap of six meters down.

Niels smiles gets off the table and ride away to make some room for the run-up. He turns around, charges towards the table set, jumps on it and continue to the metal rail where he does a Boardslide board lock into a Frontside 360. (if you can't visualize the trick be sure to check out the edit above)

Photo by: Mickey Oosterling

This is just one of the amazing moments that you can relive in Niels Cardinaels' ”Welcome to SkatePro” edit. The scene is an excellent example of that the 18-year-old scooter rider goes all the way to do what he loves.

The Golden Days

Photo by: Henkjan Schollaart

Niels’ passion for scooters started back in 2012 when he tried one of his friends’ scooters for the first time.

“Back then I had a halfpipe in my backyard and rode a BMX. My friends came by to ride, and they brought their scooters. I, of course, tried it, got totally hooked and bought my first scooter, which was a JD Bug kids scooter, which I trashed in like two days”, he laughs.

These were ”The Golden Days” as Niels calls it. Going to the skatepark to ride and having sessions at his backyard halfpipe. But one day everything changed when he was working on a little piece of metal.

“A little chip of metal flew into my eye, and when it started bleeding, I just knew that this was going to be bad - and it was. I became blind on my right eye. To this day, I’ve gotten 11 surgeries on it, and let's just say there have been quite a few troubles with it”, he says.

Ride on

Photo by: Mickey Oosterlin

Though Niels, according to himself, can’t remember how it is to have two eyes, he can remember some of the struggles he had.

“I remember after one of my first surgeries, I had to keep calm but I wanted to ride so bad. So I went to the skatepark anyways. After five minutes I crashed because my depth perception was screwed up, so I fell and broke my ribs and cracked my head open”, Niels laughs.

Photo by: Mickey Oosterling

Niels admits that it took some time to learn how to ride with one eye, but he learned to live with it, and after a while, he found out what he needs to think about when he’s out riding. But there can still be some challenges when it comes to riding with 50 percent of your eyesight missing.

“It can be a bit hard to see where the obstacles exactly are at times, and if there’s someone right next to me I tend to have problems seeing the person. But it’s not a big problem anymore,” he says.

My eye shouldn't dictate my life

Photo by: Mickey Oosterling

The doctors advised, the back then 12-year-old, Niels, to stop doing action sports. So why didn’t he retire? Well according to Niels the answer is very clear.

“I’m not a good footballer, haha. No, my life revolves around scooters, I use all my spare time on riding, and when I go on vacation, I travel abroad to ride my scooter. I simply love it. I don’t want my eye to dictate what I can do in my life. I want to do all the stuff that other people do, but with one eye and this has been my motivation every day since the accident.”

Photo by: Mickey Oosterling

By sharing his story, Niels hopes that he can inspire and motivate people with a disability like his own to do what they love, and don’t let themselves restrain by their limitation.

“I can ride a scooter and do all sorts of tricks. Sure it was hard at the start, but I overcame it. I’m an excellent example of that you can do what you want if you just put your mind to it. And I hope that my story can inspire others to keep doing what they love, even if it's hard", says Niels.

Follow Niels Cardinaels on his scooter adventures around Europe on his Instagram

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