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Up Close & Personal

name: Andy Grauwels


age: 34

education: Electromechanics

family & marital staus: Married

number of jumps: 8,000

years in Sport: 18

teams: No Limits, Hayabusa

slot(s): Point (2001-2008), Outside Center (2009-2016)

favorite competition: Mondial Dubai 2012

funniest moment in skydiving: We were on the podium of the 2014 World Championships. As we got on and received our medals our national anthem starts to play. I got the idea to already unscrew the bottle of Champagne that I had in my hands. So that by the end of the song I could just let the Champagne flow. The plan was better in my head than it really played out, because as I started to unwind the thing the top busted off. Chris Farina of Airspeed heard the popping sounds and looked over. I panicked as I see the cork flying and put my finger on the top, but it all just redirected right into Chris' eye. He couldn't see a thing and I needed to hold myself for not laughing out because the National anthem was not finished yet. I later apologized to him, because it was all an accident.

skydiving mentor(s): Sven Ibens, Gary Smith, Craig Girard, Martial Ferre, Dan BC, my brother, and many others that I respect for passing on their knowledge, skills and passion!

hobbies: Boxing, Cinematography, Kitesurfing, Traveling

favorite book(s): Mental Training for Skydiving and Life (John DeRosalia), Above All Else (Dan BC), No Limits: The Will to Succeed (Michael Phelps - Alan Abrahamson)

favorite music: Drake, Eminem, John Mayer, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Weekend, Bruno Mars, Daft Punk

favorite movie(s): Man on Fire, Top Gun, Superbad, Shooter, Wolf of Wallstreet

favorite place: On top of Sant Pere de Rhodes, a mountain with an amazing view over the Emporda

Where will you be ten years from now? Competing and skydiving but maybe by then with my own kid(s)...

best kept secret: I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease two months before the Mondial Dubai 2012 and had surgery shortly after the competition. So far, everything is under control and I hope to keep skydiving for many years to come.

favorite quote:

"To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”"

                              - Muhammad Ali

It is almost impossible to separate the career stories of the Grauwels brothers David and Andy from each other. Their names stand for Hayabusa, and Hayabusa has never been without David and Andy Grauwels. However, David is the older brother, and his NSL Profile was first.

Andy Grauwels is the other perfect example for a skydiver who got addicted and then went through whatever it would take to become a world champion. What separates him and his brother Andy from most other skydivers with the same or similar goals is a simple fact: They really became 4-way world champions...

David and Andy Grauwels grew up in a skydiving family, beginning with their grandparents in the early 70s. Then Father Alex and his brother and sister were skydiving in the late 70s, before it was time for David's and Andy's turn. Sounds familiar so far...?

Andy Grauwels is four years younger than his brother David, and he had to wait four years until he could make his first skydive with the same age of 16.

In fact, he was even a few weeks younger when he started on January 1st, 2000, the first day of the new millennium.

Then he had to catch up quickly, as his older brother had already attended his first national championships in 4-way before Andy made his first jump.

The Roeiers in 2002 The Roeiers in 2002
He trained and competed only with one other team (No Limits) before he and his brother David joined forces with Hayabusa.

This happened at the end of the 2002 season when David's 2nd place team "Roeiers" did not continue. David Grauwels and Sven Ibens asked brother Andy and Roy Janssen to launch a new team project, and Hayabusa was born.

Father Alex with sons Andy and David Father Alex with sons Andy and David
The rest of Andy Grauwels' career story is in fact identical with brother David's one.

However, this counts only for scores and leaderboards, Hayabusa lineups, medals, trophies and athletic achievements. Of course, there are differences in their personal lives and even in the Hayabusa environment. Andy Grauwels is married: "No kids, but I do have the most beautiful wife on my side." He also hopes to skydive with his own kids later in his life, just as his father Alex did with Andy and David.

Favorite Competition: Mondial Dubai 2012 Favorite Competition: Mondial Dubai 2012
The Mondial Dubai 2012 was for both Grauwels brothers the favorite competition in their careers, and Andy Grauwels explains why:

"We worked so hard that year and were so hungry for that title. After a bad start, we got closer to Airspeed round by round and were even tied going into Round 10.

"It was such a exciting moment when we walked out to the boarding area and a huge crowd lined up to cheer for both teams. It struck me then that we had a shot on becoming world champions. The dream that we all had when we formed the team was becoming so vivid.

"It's kinda funny now, but I remember when we climbed out of the plane and picked up our grips. It was like the noise of the plane and wind just faded and everything became slow-motion. Even in freefall I could see every detail.

Live Judging of Round 10 Live Judging of Round 10
"We had a great jump, actually we really rocked it, but we knew and saw that we busted a point.

"In a skydive like that there is no holding back, even when you lose a grip you just keep going as fast as you can. We had no idea what Airspeed had made on the jump, so we hoped to match their score. But unfortunately they had a perfect jump without a glitch and were over all ten rounds the strongest team.

"The crowd loved the show and there was a great atmosphere, as we all saw both jumps being live-judged on the big screens. It was a very emotional moment when we had a group hug before we went over to Airspeed to congratulate them on their victory."

Training in Empuriabrava Training in Empuriabrava
As his brother David, Andy Grauwels remembers his own vodka experience at the Malevsky Cup 2005 as one of the funniest moments in his skydiving career, as well. However, the blooper at the World Meet in Prostejov 2014 was just as memorable.

Andy Grauwels also lifted his own best kept secret, which was a scary experience and related to the same event that both Grauwels brothers remember as their favorite competition, the Mondial Dubai 2012:

"Two months before the World Championships in Dubai, we were in a training camp in Empuria, on the right track and in very good shape towards the competition.

"But halfway through the camp I started to have fevers at night, which passed in the mornings. So during the day I could still do our jumps, but by the time I got back home I would lay in bed with 39 degrees.

One month in hospitals in 2012 One month in hospitals in 2012
"That week I visited almost every day at the hospital for a checkup, but they could not figure it out. My body was getting so tired from the jumps at that camp and the fevers at night - so it finally blocked.

"I had to stay almost a month in hospitals in Spain and Belgium. My biggest fear was that I would not be able to jump at the World Championships, or for that matter maybe never again.

"Everything was so unclear, one day I would make 16 jumps, and the next day I didn't have the power to get myself out of my hospital bed.

"I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and had surgery shortly after the World Championship. So far, everything is under control and I hope to keep skydiving for many years to come."

We hope so too, Andy...