My name is Tanja and I consider myself lucky to be able to celebrate two birthdays. 14 years ago (in 2003) I suffered an accident. I fell from height and broke the 12th pectoral vertebra. Since the accident, I have been bound to a wheelchair and I see the world from a “lower perspective”, which, in reality, is extremely high. At first my world collapsed. I had no idea what to expect, what it would be like … While it did take a bit of time, the things eventually turned brighter.

After three years of waiting to be able to walk again, I have decided I have waited long enough. I have again started to gain interest and ambition in sport, which was my one big love before the accident. I have made the decision and went for it. To the track to see my coach, who had coached me before the accident and told her about my desire to participate at the Beijing Olympics.

Before the accident, I was an active athlete, starting as a runner but later opting for javelin throw. My coach, Romana first gave me a bizarre look and then asked: “Are you aware that the Olympics are just two years away?”

Either way, she came along with me and we succeeded. At my very first Olympics, I managed to achieve a world-class result and place 5th. Not too shabby, is it?

We continued to fight further and thanks to the athletics, I have had the opportunity to travel and see the whole world. I attended the European Championships in the Netherlands, the World Championships in New Zealand ... These two destinations remain most memorable to me.

After ten years of training and after my second Olympics in London, I have decided it was enough. The competition system that combines athletes into groups regardless of the height of their spinal damage didn’t allow me to place at the top, which was my goal. I have always set my goals high, if not right at the top. Some goals just can’t be reached, but still …
Following my retirement from competitive sport, I ditched the javelin throw for my Ajša – a Labrador that follows me everywhere I go. As does my 17-year old daughter, Nika, who because of me, is a special kind of girl, living a life very different compared to lives of her peers. Because of me.

At the beginning, I blamed myself for the accident, not knowing how it will affect Nika. I also got divorced, which meant that the two of us ended up alone. I’ve soon realised that because of the accident and the consequent injury which made me wheelchair-bound, Nika will be a better person. If that’s the result of my fall, then by all means, it was worth it.

Accidents like mine change a person’s life. You never really accept the situation, although you accept the facts and the life you are left with.

I’ve been an ambassador for Wings for life since 2015 which is one of the nicest things that happened to me after the injury. I have met and got to know people who I otherwise wouldn’t, I’ve had the honour to perform in front of 90 000 spectators. None of this would have happened if I didn’t get injured.

I live and let live. »LIFE IS A GIFT AND NOT A GIVEN RIGHT« ... a tattoo above the heart reminds me of this every morning when I step in front of the mirror.