Austria Celebrates One Year to Go until the Paralympic Games

Austrian Paralympic Committee invited top Paralympic starts to Schmely University Centre in Vienna 07 Sep 2011 By IPC

To celebrate the campaign "LONDON 2012 Paralympic Games - One Year to Go Get involved Be part of it", the Austrian Paralympic Committee invited top Paralympic and Olympic stars to the grounds of the Schmelz University Sports Centre in Vienna.

Olympic athletes tried out Paralympic sports for the first time under the guidance of Paralympics athletes. Olympic medallist Mirna Jukic and Olympian Sebastian Stoss took up the challenge of swimming a race against the visually impaired swimmer Peter Tichy blindfolded.

Mirna Jukic said: "You’re constantly afraid of swimming into something. Right after diving in, I swam into the rope. You can barely concentrate because everything is so unfamiliar. It’s incredibly difficult."

Peter Tichy clearly won the race against Jukic and Stoss: "It is an honour for me to swim against Mirna and Sebastian. It was a great race that was a lot of fun."

Tennis player Stefan Koubek, who only just ended his career in August, tried his hand at Wheelchair Tennis with some tips from current players Martin Legner und Niko Langmann, recognizing the difficulties of the Paralympic sport.

Stefan Koubek said: "The feeling and the timing was a disaster. I have the utmost respect for the wheelchair players. It is incredibly impressive how they are able to play the ball."

In Athletics Georg Tischler demonstrated his prowess in the (wheelchair) discus throw and Paralympic champion Bil Marinkovic (visually impaired) impressed with the javelin throw.

On trying out "visually impaired" javelin and discus throwing, junior heptathlon hopeful Dominik Distelberger said: "Co-ordinating when running blind is much more difficult than it looks. You really have to take your hat off to Bil’s achievements!”

Bil Marinkovic said: "I am delighted that I could demonstrate our sport a little bit. My training is in full swing and I’m determined to get a medal at London 2012."

Over 100 spectators and athletes were also excited by the Cycling and Athletics from Thomas Geierspichler (wheelchair racing), Wolfgang Schattauer (hand bike) and Wolfgang Eibeck (cycling).

The winger for the Handball national team Conny Wilczynski tried out the hand bike while Stefan Koubek and Mirna Jukic tested their wheelchair racing skills.

Wilczynski said: "Hats off to achievements of Tom, Wolfgang and their teammates. As a top athlete, I am certainly accustomed to moving around, but cornering at speed in a wheelchair is something else. It was definitely a great experience, to get a taste of Paralympic Sport with the best athletes in the country.”

The Austrian Paralympic Committee received very positive feedback after organizing an event of this kind for the first time, where Olympic and Paralympic athletes took part together. The event was also supported by NPC Austria’s Sponsors, the lottery and Bank Austria.

Former federal minister and President of NPC Austria, Maria Rauch-Kallat said: "I’d like to thank all athletes, who have taken part here today. I think we were able to give athletes, sponsors and the media an impression of how difficult the sports are to play and how much respect our athletes deserve for their achievements. I’m already looking forward to the Games in London 2012!"

To sign up for your tickets for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which go on sale on Friday (9 September), please visit