Bibian Mentel — a three-time Dutch Paralympic snowboarding champion — passed away yesterday at the age of 48, after fighting recurring cancer for more than 20 years.
Mente’s family announced her death on her Instagram, reports the NOS. The message reads: “Rest in peace dear Bibian, dear mama, dear daughter, dear darling. We will never forget you. Love, Julian, Laila, Bella, Maude, Rolf and Edwin.”
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An inspiring athlete
Before becoming a Paralympic athlete, Bibian had already won multiple titles and was preparing to participate in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
However, in 2001, doctors discovered a malignant tumour in her periosteum (a connective tissue that covers the outer surface of a bone) and her lower right leg had to be amputated.
The then 28-year-old Bibian was back to snowboarding four months after the surgery. In January 2002, she won the Dutch championship, where she competed among able-bodied athletes.
After that, she went into para snowboarding. She was the Olympic flag bearer for the Netherlands in 2014 in Sochi where she won a gold medal for snowboard cross.
Four years later in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, she was a flag bearer again and went on to win two titles. Following these accomplishments, she was named the Paralympic Sportsperson of the year.
Mentel was also the founder of the Mentelity Foundation, which helps children and young adults with a physical disability to get into sports.
Condolences from the prime minister
The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, expressed his condolences on Twitter.
Bedroefd door het overlijden van @BibianMentel. Een icoon van de Nederlandse Paralympische sport. Met haar positiviteit en immense doorzettingsvermogen een voorbeeld voor ons allen. Ik wens haar nabestaanden veel sterkte met dit grote en verdrietige verlies.
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) March 29, 2021
He wrote: “Saddened by the death of @BibianMentel. An icon of the Dutch Paralympic sport. With her positivity and immense perseverance, she was an example for us all. I wish her loved ones lots of strength following this great loss”
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