Adi Sucipto was just four years old when a bicycle accident left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Yet, despite his obstacles, Adi went on to become a proud medal-winning para-athlete, while also managing to take over and expand his father’s treasured oil palm plantation.
Adi’s life-changing journey began after his family moved from Medan to Riau.
In December 1995, Adi’s parents took part in the PIR-Trans Program, a population distribution program run by the Indonesian government launched at the time. Adi’s father, who had previously been a paddy farmer, wanted to improve his quality of life by becoming a palm oil farmer.
After the move, Adi’s father became one of Asian Agri’s smallholder partners, receiving training and assistance from the company to manage his plantation.
Adi had just graduated high school when the family’s move to Riau happened. Even then, he already knew that a better life awaited them.
For taking part in the government’s transmigration program, Adi’s father was given 2.5 hectares of land for oil palm planting, and 0.5 hectares for general agriculture and a house.
Adi remembers that he always enjoyed his visits to his family’s oil palm plantation.
“I spent a lot of time in the plantation when we moved here,” he said.
“I began to help my father in the plantation and tried to do whatever I could. Mostly, I did the weeding.”
Adi’s father said he had never pressured his son to help him in the plantation, especially given Adi’s physical condition.
“I knew it was hard for him but he insisted on helping with the field maintenance. He would do regular visits to the plantation,” he said.
Adi was capable of doing everything in the plantation without assistance. He would ride his customized three-wheeled motorcycle to the plantation and, when it was not possible to ride it, he would use his arms to move around instead.
The turning point
Adi’s life changed when his friend Bunga introduced him to a world he hadn’t stepped into before: sport.
“One day, Bunga asked me to accompany her to Pekanbaru where she brought me to a para-athlete training center,” Adi said.
“I saw athletes training and preparing for the National Paralympic Games at that time. The scene captivated me as I saw that they were all handicapped, just like me,” he said.
“I didn’t know that people like me could be that strong and adaptive to sport,” he said.
Adi decided he would join the community and start training as an athlete. He chose weightlifting to be his first experience in professional sport.
Following intensive training, Adi was among the athletes who were chosen to participate in 2012 National Paralympic Week in Riau.
“I was happy, excited and extremely nervous at the same time,” Adi said.
Adi’s persistence paid off when he successfully earned his first bronze medal at the competition.
Although he was happy to have earned it, the one bronze medal wasn’t enough for Adi. He craved for more.
His first experience with the Paralympics motivated him to come back stronger. He spent hours training in Pekanbaru, although he had to ride his motorcycle for two hours just to get to the training center from his home in Pangkalan Kerinci.
There was one major change though when Adi realized he preferred wheelchair bowling to weightlift, and switched sports.
Following two years of relentless training, Adi was again among the athletes chosen to represent Ria, this time during the 2016 National Paralympic Week in Bandung, West Java. He came back home with two gold and one silver medal.
“I was proud of what I had achieved for Riau,” Adi said.
With the money he gained from winning, Adi bought an additional 2.4 hectares of land to supplement his parents’ existing oil palm plantation.
“I decided to expand our plantation because my father’s original plantation had reached the unproductive age of 25 years. We wanted to carry out replanting and thought the new land would be a good addition,” Adi explained.
Adi continues to focus on managing his family’s oil palm plantation and has gone on to follow in his father’s footsteps by partnering with Asian Agri.
“I don’t see any reason to quit and stop making my parents and myself proud of my hard work,” he said with a smile.
Adi also aims to continue achieving new sporting feats, and wants to take part in Paralympic events of a higher level eventually.
Adi is proof that with inner strength and resilience, success is possible regardless of the challenges and difficulties one has to go through in life.