João Chalupa, a record breaking hockey player, has become the first person to travel from one end of Portugal to the other, on inline skates.
The Portuguese Guinness record holder travelled from Caminha to Portimão on inline skates, without falling. The athlete had already made history in 2019 when he became the hockey player who made the most touches of the ball with the stick (513 touches). This feat earned him entry into the Guinness World Records at the time.
Hockey entered João 's life when he was just five years old, however, he had “a kind of aversion to inline skating. It requires a different technique from the way we skate. Parallel skates have a brake at the front and you just need to tilt your back to brake. If we do that with the linear ones, we fall flat.”
João wanted to try inline skates, despite all his fears, and started walking around the street with them around two years ago.
Over time, the athlete covered more and more kilometres at once. In May, he did 100 kilometers, without taking the wheels off his feet, and he thought, “if I can do this, I can also do a trip around Portugal”.
“The idea started to mess with my head. I decided to research and plan a suitable route, to avoid dirt paths and cobblestones.”
His girlfriend and a college friend also joined this journey, so that João would have a support car, in case something went wrong and to help him on the steepest descents.
To finance this adventure, the hockey player had to find extra work in a factory, however, the money was not enough and he still needed the support of sponsors. When he got them, he couldn't go back!
João's journey began on the morning of August 27th. He departed, Viana do Castelo, heading towards Portimão. The trip ended on September 7th. In total, it was 12 days and 798 kilometres of skating, without ever falling.
“There were many threats of falling, some serious, like when I was going 40 kilometres per hour, going downhill, and I almost did the splits! I hurt my groin, but it wasn’t anything catastrophic, it went away,” he says. On the first day, his feet were already full of blisters, “which burst and left real holes”.
“Whenever I put on my skates, I put on some cream to forget the pain. It didn’t improve much, so I had to keep putting it on,” he says.
The athlete was insulted and honked at several times during the trip, but everything changed when he decided to put a piece of paper in the 'support car', telling that he was going around Portugal on roller skates. The drivers he met on the road then began to encourage him with words of support.
During the epic tip, João covered around 60 to 70 kilometres a day, but whenever it rained he had to stop for safety reasons. When the descents were steeper, João leaned on the 'support car' to slow him down.
During the entire journey it was only necessary to change the wheels on the skates once. I could do 700 kilometres with them, but as I got rained on, they lost grip and I replaced them with new ones”, he said.
João slept in the houses of family or friends. When he didn't know anyone in some locations, he had to resort to spending the night at campsites.
The adventure ended on September 7th, when he arrived in Portimão. Despite the pain in his feet, the following day, he returned to training at Hóquei Clube Vasco da Gama de Sines.