Despite having cerebral palsy, Swedish artist Mikael Avatar lives his life with a positive force and has achieved much more than the average person. He broke the world record long jump at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, went on a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean, practiced judo, went to a music school and studied Science. Mikael is now a personal coach, a public speaker and an artist.
From June 28 to July 21, Olive Bistro on Sukhumvit 33 road in Bangkok hosted an art exhibition featuring abstract paintings entitled “Avatar Energy Art”, by Swedish artist and motivational speaker Mikael Avatar.
“It’s called ‘Energy Art’ because it’s aimed at creating positivity. If you are positive you are lucky. That’s what I wanted to create when working on my art here,” said Mikael.
At the art exhibition opening, Mikael delivered an inspiring speech concerning his life story and played music to impress participating guests. One of his paintings was sold for 100,000 baht that evening.
Life story of Mikael Avatar
In 1968 in Sweden, Mikael Avatar was born dead for 40 minutes before coming back to live. As a result of oxygen deficiency, however, he was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. Despite the doctor’s statement that he would not be able to live a normal life in a community, Mikael grew up with a positive energy and no sense of self-limitation.
“I have never thought that I am disabled but people around me think I am but I don’t act upon it,” said Mikael at the opening of the art exhibition.
When asked by his mum at a very young age what he wanted to be, Mikael said that he wanted to be a mountain climber. With a diplomatic character, his mum told Mikael that mountain climbers don’t make money. However, Mikael proved her wrong as 15 years later he was one of the instructors for a climbing group showing people how to climb on vertical walls.
When Mikael was young, he saw his friend on a bike and wanted to do the same. While the special commissioned bicycle was being ordered for him, he taught himself to ride a bike using his friend’s bike in the yard. As no one told him that it was impossible for him, Mikael believed he could ride a bike like his friends. And by the time the special bike from the social service arrived, he could already ride a bike by himself.
“I like to be positive. I have always been positive,” said Mikael.
Living a normal life would, in fact, be an understatement for Mikael as he has actually done more than the average person. Mikael practiced judo, went to a music school, studied science in regards to cerebral palsy for ten years and was an Assistant Professor. Also, he trained more than 10,000 hours for Paralympics.
“When I had a passion for something, I always went for it. I have done everything with passion,” said Mikael.
Mikael went on the first sailboat crewed by disabled people across the Atlantic Ocean. He made the world record in 1996 Atlanta Paralympics in long jump, which he held for 12 years.
“I never doubted that I couldn’t break the world record in the Paralympics in front of 68,000 people,” he said.
On top of that, he is a personal coach, a public speaker, and an artist. With his inspiring life story, he has had an impact on lives of over thousands of people across the globe.
A personal coach and a public speaker
Mikael started coaching a group of ten to 20 people how to train when he was ten. At the time, he had a mentor who taught him about life.
“Because of my condition, I don’t scare people. I think I have chosen the way to come in this earth so I could reach people without them thinking I’m crazy.
“I give my audience the pictures of my life. It’s a true story and they react. That’s what I do when I do public speaking. I don’t tell people what is right or wrong. It’s up to them. When people listen to my talk, they forget about me because they see themselves,” said Mikael.
Mikael has been a personal coach for over 30 years, and a public speaker and an artist for over 20 years.
“Whatever you do, don’t wait. Just do it. Don’t care what people say. If you have the passion, go for it and you’ll be good at nearly everything. It’s five per cent talent and 95 per cent practice.
“Many people want many things and have different goals in their lives, but to be a painter you need to paint. You don’t need to be good but you need to paint at least every week.
“When I started I didn’t know how to paint. I just knew I wanted to paint and I decided that I would do 100 paintings before deciding whether I should continue. When I finished 100 paintings, I knew it was for me. However, I know that the best painting I’ll make would be in 10 years from now,” said Mikael.
Moving to Rayong, Thailand
As Mikael’s physical condition means he often has cramps, especially in cold weather, he decided to move from Sweden to tropical Thailand four years ago. Through a long-term connection between his Swedish ex-wife and well-known Swedish education expert Lars-Erik Uneståhl, Mikael joined the mental coaching & training centre in Rayong called “Center for Excellence in Thailand (CET)”, which is an affiliation of Skandinaviska Ledarhögskolan.
“That’s one of the reasons why I came here. Without him, I have nothing in Thailand,” said Mikael.
Located near Thaihem, a Swedish villa community, the centre is about 20 kilometres east of Ban Phe, 100 metres from the sea and just 25 minutes from the famous Koh Samet.
Mikael plans to offer weekend coaching sessions at the centre in Rayong to anyone who is interested.
“It will be a mini coaching session to help you understand yourself and your life, or what you really want to do with your life,” he said.
Mikael believes that human beings come to this planet with a purpose. He said he has met and coached many people, where he has been by their sides finding their purposes.
“Finding a purpose for your life is important. For me I have many but for some, one is enough. It doesn’t matter what you choose. After you find it, walk that path until the end,” said Mikael.
“I met many good sportsmen who started their paths but didn’t have enough passion to go to the Olympics because they didn’t have the strength to train 50 hours more per week to pass that line,” he added.
At the moment, Mikael lives in Rayong with his Thai wife “Khun Kai”, whom he has been with for two years.
Mikael’s next goal is to make great music and wow the crowds with his live performance.