Quadriplegic bodybuilder learns to walk again
By Staff Reporter 18m ago
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Cape Town – Seven years after being left paralysed by a devastating car accident, this former bodybuilding model has made his comeback on stage – and is on his way to walking again.
In 2013, Marco Pietrowski was in the shape of his life after winning a South African bodybuilding title and earning Professional status, but his health was about to change in an instant. He was a passenger in a car crash in Camps Bay that left him wheelchair-bound as an incomplete quadriplegic.
“After the accident I didn't know what to expect; it was very overwhelming,” he said. “It's a change mentally from being such a strong guy, being active all the time. Being disabled is a whole new world. It was extremely difficult making the transition.”
Doctors weren’t sure he would ever be able to walk again, but Pietrowski was determined.
“I said I will walk again, but I did have a little bit of doubt, because I couldn't move,” he recalled.
Lying in a hospital bed and eventually moving on through rehabilitation and physiotherapy, the physique and muscle that he had spent years building, quickly wasted away.
Pietrowski moved to Johannesburg and then Durban through the years as his physical challenges took their toll, relationships crumbled and he kept fighting for recovery and independence.
It was when he moved back to Cape Town and joined the Walking With Brandon Foundation that he started making phenomenal progress, building up feeling and function enough in his legs to walk with the assistance of a walker.
However, as Road Accident Fund money dried up, Pietrowski was forced to leave his training regimen.
“I stopped training because financially, everything got depleted. I had to sell my car and everything. I stopped training for a year and a half, I lost all the strength and muscle gain I’d developed. I couldn’t stand anymore, let alone walk,” he said. “I went to a dark place.”
Luckily, he met his now-wife Lyndal, and as their relationship blossomed, it gave him the strength to begin his fitness journey again.
Seeing wheelchair bodybuilding athletes was just the inspiration Pietrowski needed to reignite his passion for packing on muscle.
“In the last year I’ve followed international wheelchair bodybuilding. I saw them on stage and I was blown away,” he said. “I met these huge guys in wheelchairs. They said, fulfil your dream – if you want to bodybuild, do it.”
Last year, Pietrowski made his stage comeback and won his division, along with Lyndal, who also won her division.
This comeback was just the beginning, as crowdfunding online has managed to raise the finances necessary for Pietrowski to return to the Walking With Brandon team. He is now able to walk for more than half an hour, assisted with a walker.
“I’m up again! I can walk for 32 minutes. I’m back again, it’s fantastic,” he said.
He plans to be back on stage flexing as soon as competitions reopen next year.
“I’m still training, I’m trying to do what I can. I’m excited. I’ve got big big plans.”
To learn more or support Pietrowski in his journey, please visit https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/marco-pietrowski