Toyota GB is helping Fabienne André in her sporting ambitions by providing the Brighton-based para athlete with a new Toyota Corolla. The car, a self-charging hybrid hatchback, has all the space she needs to carry her kit, including a racing wheelchair, to her regular training sessions at the Weir Archer Academy in Kingston-upon-Thames.
Through her commitment and dedicated work-ethic, Fabienne, 22, has achieved a meteoric rise in her sporting career. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was three years old and, following a major leg operation when she was 14, took up swimming on the advice of her physiotherapist. She joined the Mid-Sussex Marlins swimming club in Burgess Hill and rapidly moved up through the ranks, ultimately competing in national and international events. Fabienne represented England in the World Cerebral Palsy Games in Barcelona in August 2018, winning medals in each of the four events she swam in.
More recently she has taken up wheelchair racing, with a view to competing in triathlons. It has been a successful transition, and this summer she took part in the Hybrid event at the Müller Anniversary Games at the London Stadium, finishing second, behind the current world record holder.
For the past three years, Fabienne, who works as a hospital physiotherapy assistant, has driven a much-loved Toyota Aygo. But as her sporting career has progressed, it has proved too small to carry all the equipment she needs. She contacted Toyota to ask if there was any way that her car could be adapted to create more storage space. Impressed by her story, the company decided to go one step further, by providing her with a new Corolla Hatchback for 18 months. The car, built in Britain, has ample space for all her equipment, including both racing and conventional wheelchairs.
Andrew Cullis, Toyota GB’s Director for Communications and Product, said: “The global motto for our Olympic and Paralympic partnerships is ‘Start Your Impossible’, aimed at inspiring people to overcome their personal hurdles to mobility and personal achievement. Fabienne’s story captures the spirit of this campaign perfectly and we are pleased to be able to help her in a constructive way so that she can continue to pursue her sporting dreams. As a mobility company, Toyota wants to help everyone to enjoy freedom of movement and the opportunities that brings.”
Fabienne said: “I’m hugely grateful to Toyota for providing me with this new Corolla. I absolutely loved my Aygo, but now that I have to regularly transport a racing wheelchair, I need a bigger car. The new Corolla is just the job and it means I’ll arrive in style wherever I go.”