A woman who was born without a left hand or foot has been dubbed a ‘real-life bionic woman’ as she rollerblades, weightlifts and competes as a professional Paralympic snowboarder.
Enya van Egmond, 24, from Arnhem, the Netherlands, has worn a prosthetic leg since she was two, but has never let her disability hold her back.
She said her achievements have all been possible thanks to the support of her family – especially her mum, Bibi Zwolman, 57, who has always treated her ‘the same as everyone else’.
She travelled to South Korea in 2018 for the Paralympics after becoming a professional Paralympic snowboarder at age 14, but sadly missed out on competing due to an injury.
Enya van Egmond, 24, (pictured) from Arnhem, the Netherlands, has been dubbed a ‘bionic woman’ since getting a bionic arm
Enya, who is a sports and movement student at Roc Nijmegen University, was born without a left hand or foot. Pictured left: Enya as a baby
Gym lover Enya said she would be boring if she was ‘normal, with two hands and two feet’ and believes she was meant to be ‘bionic’
Enya loves going to the gym despite her limb differences and has three adapted prosthetic legs – one for running, one for walking and one for wearing heels.
The sports and movement student at Roc Nijmegen University, recently received a bionic arm although she has always thrived without two hands.
She loves being a ‘bionic woman’ and has a new-found confidence.
Enya said: ‘I believe this is how I’m meant to be.
‘I would be boring if I was normal, with two hands and two feet.
Parents Bibi, 57, and Arthur van Egmond, 58, had no idea that Enya (pictured as a child) would be born without two of her limbs
Enya had the few toes that she was born with on her left foot amputated before her first birthday, as they would’ve prevented her from walking without crutches
Enya said being born without her left hand or foot has given her so many opportunities and has made her determined
‘Being born this way has given me so many opportunities and made me more determined, it’s a bit of a superpower.
‘I love being a bionic woman.’
Parents Bibi, 57, and Arthur van Egmond, 58, had no idea their child would be born without two of her limbs.
Baby Enya arrived with no left hand or forearm, and no left foot or lower left leg.
She had a ‘few toes’ on her left leg, but before her first birthday they were amputated as they would have prevented her from being able to walk without the use of crutches.
Enya said she’s grateful her parents agreed to her amputation because she wouldn’t have been able to walk properly
Enya’s family were told her limb differences may be due to umbilical cord complications or a twin that died in the womb – but were not given a definitive answer
Enya said her disability has never stopped her from feeling ‘normal’ and she approached life just like any other child
‘It was a hard decision for my parents to agree to the amputation, but they knew it was for the best as I wouldn’t have been able to walk properly otherwise,’ Enya said.
‘I’m so grateful to them they agreed with doctors – it was only a few toes, and they weren’t in the right place anyway.’
The family were given a couple of possible explanations for Enya’s limb differences, including umbilical cord complications or a twin that died in the womb – but have never been able to give a definitive answer.
Enya claims this has never stopped her from feeling ‘normal’ and she approached life just like any other young child.
Enya (pictured as a child) and her sisters Aira, 26, and Teddy, 18, spent a lot of time as children in the gym where their mum, Bibi, worked in the day-care centre
Enya threw herself into swimming, judo, dance, as well as horse riding and cycling throughout her childhood
Enya said her parents would allow her to figure things out, even if it took her an hour to do something that should have taken 10 minutes
‘My parents always allowed me to figure things out for myself,’ Enya said.
‘Even if it took me an hour to do something that should have taken 10 minutes, they knew I wanted to be able to do it myself and I’m so grateful to them for letting me.
‘I always managed in the end.
‘I’ve never been afraid of anything. I would rather break my leg than not try.’
Enya and her sisters Aira, 26, and Teddy, 18, spent a lot of time as children in the gym where their mum, Bibi, worked in the day-care centre.
Enya became a professional snowboarder for the Dutch Paralympic team at age 14 and competed for five years
Enya said the Paralympics in South Korea was ‘one of the best’ experiences she has had despite being unable to compete due to injury
Enya said the Paralympics helped her to keep pushing herself as she realised how strong they all are
It was there that Enya threw herself into swimming, judo, and dance, as well as horse riding and cycling when she got home.
Her love of sports continued through her childhood, and at 14 she became a professional snowboarder for the Dutch Paralympic team.
She competed for five years and flew to South Korea in 2018 after placing for the Dutch team.
Unfortunately, due to injury, Enya was unable to compete, but says the experience was ‘one of the best things’ she’s ever done.
Enya said her boyfriend of two years, Yves Litjens, 36, supports her sports interests, including roller skating, mountain biking, longboarding, and running
Enya, who was born without a left hand or foot, now goes to the gym five times a week to work on her weightlifting
‘It’s amazing to be surrounded by so many Paralympians and realise how strong we all are,’ Enya said.
‘The whole experience was incredible – it definitely helped me to keep pushing myself.’
Enya’s love of sport has accelerated since her childhood and she now attends the gym five times a week to work on her weightlifting.
Outside of the gym, she enjoys roller skating, mountain biking, longboarding, and running, all with the support of her boyfriend of two years, Yves Litjens, 36.
Enya said she loves the way exercise makes her feel and ‘it’s like anything is possible’
Enya said her prosthetic limbs break more than she would like because she is always running and jumping
Enya has a blade attachment for running, regular leg for walking and other exercise, as well as a prosthetic with an angled foot to wear with heels
Enya recently received a bionic arm which she claims has helped with her confidence and the mental challenges surrounding her limb differences
‘I just love the way exercise makes me feel – it’s like anything is possible,’ Enya said.
‘My prosthetics take a lot of impact because I’m always running and jumping, so they do break more than I would like.
‘But I won’t let that stop me, I’m determined to not let them hinder me.’
With three leg prosthetics to choose from, Enya has her blade attachment for running, regular leg for walking and other exercise, and a prosthetic with an angled foot to wear with heels.
She has recently also received a bionic arm which she says her really helped with her confidence and the mental challenges surrounding her limb differences.
Enya said it never used to bother her that she didn’t have a hand or foot because she couldn’t do anything to change it
Enya admits she was more concerned about her red hair and really struggled with that, but embraced her prosthetics
Enya said she began to struggle after seeing someone else with a bionic hand and couldn’t shift the idea that ‘normal’ meant having two hands
‘It never used to bother me that I didn’t have my hand or foot because I couldn’t do anything to change it,’ Enya said.
‘I was more concerned about my red hair and really struggled with that, but I embraced my prosthetics.
‘It was only when I saw someone else with a bionic hand and realised how cool they looked compared to mine that I began to struggle.
‘I couldn’t shift the idea in my head that ‘normal’ meant having two hands – and I only had one.’
Enya can navigate most obstacles in life without her arm prosthetic including lifting weights and riding a bike
Enya said she wants to share her journey to show that being an amputee shouldn’t have to hold you back
With her new bionic arm, Enya says she feels empowered to have the decision to have two hands or not.
She can navigate most obstacles in life without her arm prosthetic including lifting weights and riding a bike, but enjoys having the option and variety the bionic arm gives her.
‘I wanted to share my journey for myself and to show that being an amputee shouldn’t have to hold you back – there are incredible prosthetics out there which change lives like mine,’ Enya said.
‘It still amazes me how many people think of me as an inspiration. I get messaged all the time from people who are struggling, but it’s such a supportive community and we’re all there for each other.
‘I’m so glad I was born like this, I wouldn’t change it for the world – and I want to encourage others to be proud of who they are too.’