Watching the Unstoppables: a film packed with inspiration

The Unstoppables

Watching the Unstoppables: a film packed with inspiration

CTC's Kay Lakin and CTC member and Wheels For Wellbeing trustee Kevin Hickman went to a preview of the award-winning Spanish documentary film 'Imparables', which in English means 'unstoppables'.
'Imparables' is an award-winning cycling documentary about a group of people with physical disabilities who train together as part of the Genesis Cycling Team at the Horta Velodrome, Barcelona.
 
The club was established over 10 years go by Juanjo Mendez and his friend Bernart Moreno, after Juano lost his left arm and leg in a motorcycle accident. Today, the team has over 100 members, of all abilities, who cycle together. Many of those who train together do so to keep fit, but a few had much bigger ambitions – to compete at the Paralympic Games in London 2012!
 
The documentary focuses on Paralympians founders Juanjo and Racquel Acinas, along with their coach (and club co-founder) Bernart Moren as they train together for the 2012 Paralympic games. Juanjo is one of the world’s top Paralympic champions and his dedication is infectious from the start. Racquel is also a world medal-winner and it’s hard not to feel her excitement at being part of Spain’s women’s Paralympic team.
 
On one level it's about how disability can change everyone's perception of what's possible and how people can enjoy cycling together regardless of ability. But it also shows how the sheer variety within disability can make Paralympic sport complex and sometimes even cruel.  Not surprisingly, disappointment is dealt with in the same way as misfortune, and it's that initial joy found in cycling that wins.”
Kevin Hickman, CTC member and Wheels For Wellbeing trustee 
 
 
The documentary is emotive – listening to the family and cyclists talk about the struggles faced through their found physical disabilities, it’s hard not to be touched. However, their dedication to cycling and determination to fulfil their dreams is inspiring and uplifting throughout. There are laugh out loud moments too as the team banter with each other, and their coach, as they push each other to go further. They even have a nickname ‘The Pirates,’ which as Juanjo jokes means: “No surrender, no giving up, always forward, and if we must die, let it be riding!”
 
It’s clear that there is a real club spirit here; they all support each other and it obviously makes a positive impact. New team member, Elisa – who lost a leg to cancer - continually progresses and we watch as her team mates cycle alongside her in her first competitive road race, pushing her forward until she completes what was initially a daunting challenge. Then there is Manelet, who has autism and cerebral palsy. The documentary shows him as he learns to ride a bike for the first time but also starts to talk to and engage with the rest of the team.
 
There is joy and trepidation when Juanjo and Racquel both qualify for the Olympics but are concerned over the combined classification of their races, meaning that cyclists with very different impairments compete against each other, which is different to the National Championship. We all watched on the edge of our seats as both Juano and Racquel compete in London but neither of them won any medals that year. However, that hasn’t stopped them continuing to compete! After the film's showing, there was a question and answers session with Racquel, her husband, and producer, Richard Galvani. It’s not for the money, not for the fame, but because, as Racquel states: “I just love to cycle”.
 
 
It goes beyond the bicycle too, as this short film below about the composer of the film score Lyn Levett demonstrates: 

 
Unstoppables is out on DVD and VOD in February 2015 from Black Train Films.
 
To find out more about inclusive cycling, take a look at the 40 CTC-accredited clubs in the UK that are part of the National Inclusive Cycling Network  - a partnership between CTC and Cycling Projects, funded through the BIG Lottery Fund
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