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Thibeau Bastien is 22 years old.
He is a sportsman from Belgium.
He is very good at sailing.
In 2013 he joined Unified Sailing Belgium.
This is an organisation that puts together
people without disabilities
who want to sail.
Thibeau does sailing competitions with Matthias.
Matthias is his “sailing buddy”.
Thibeau has been European champion twice.
He also won gold at the Special Olympics World Games
in 2015 and in 2019.
The Special Olympics World Games are
sport competitions for people with intellectual disabilities
from all over the world.
You are very much into sailing.
How did you get interested in this sport?
I started sailing with my parents
when I was still a baby.
We have a boat
and they took me along their trips
from a very early age.
How did you decide that you wanted
to take part in competitions?
Unified Sailing contacted my school.
They asked if they knew students
who were good at swimming.
My teachers told them about me.
Together with my parents
I went to get to know Unified Sailing.
I liked it very much and I decided to participate.
From that day,
I have been sailing almost every weekend.
In 2014, I asked Matthias Van der Auwelaer
to be my buddy.
I knew him because
we did some of the same competitions together.
Who does what when Matthias and you sail together?
Matthias controls the sails
and gives me navigation orders.
I am the navigator.
This means that I direct the boat.
Matthias and you have won a lot of important prizes.
Is there any race that you remember more than others?
I remember one race in Abu Dhabi
during the World competition.
Abu Dhabi is a city in the United Arab Emirates.
During the race
we were very close with another team.
The other team’s boat hit us.
I was a bit scared.
But in the end, everything went fine.
Sailing is different in every country.
For example, in Switzerland you can go sailing
in a lake that has mountains on all sides.
This is great.
I also love sailing in Mallorca.
Mallorca is an island in Spain.
The sea is so blue there.
It is beautiful.
You were elected as “Yachtman of the Year” in 2015.
How did it feel like to get this award?
It was a huge honour to get this award
as someone with intellectual disability.
It was also important
because more people got to know
Unified Sailing and Special Olympics Belgium.
Now you work as a researcher
for the project “My Talents. For Diversity”.
What do you do in this job?
I contact companies
who employ people with intellectual disabilities.
I ask them for an interview
and to do an online survey.
I contact them by mail and phone.
My favourite part is interviewing people.
Usually I am the one who is interviewed.
But in this job, I get to ask questions.
I really like that.
After the Special Olympics World Games, you spoke with Kris Peeters.
Kris Peters was the Belgian Minister of Economy and Employment.
You talked about the project “My Talents. For Diversity”.
What did you tell him about the project?
I explained the entire project to Kris Peeters.
He was very interested because this is a European project.
What did he say?
He wanted to know more about it.
We made an appointment for a meeting
to talk more about it.
Why is it important that people with intellectual disabilities
can go to university?
It is important because if they go to university
they have a chance to get a job in a company.
What can people with intellectual disabilities teach students?
People with intellectual disabilities can teach students
that it is interesting to work with people like me.
Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.
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