“Athletics is something fun to do together, no matter if you have an impairment or not. This initiative is something for today’s and also future generations in Berlin. Those who look at it and do not try it will be missing something."
In exactly 100 days’ time, Berlin will host the World Para Athletics European Championships and to get ready for one of the most important Para sport events of the year, people from all regions of the German capital will have the chance to see and try Para athletics first-hand.
On Saturday (12 May), Paralympic medallist and two-time world champion Mathias Mester will be at the Tempelhof-Schoneberg district to introduce Berliners to the sport in the second edition of the Urban Athletics Kiez Cup.
The event will visit one district of Berlin every Saturday until 11 August to people of all ages, especially children, the chance to run, jump, throw and test a racing wheelchair. It is part of the educational legacy of the European Championships.
“We want people to feel the excitement [of the Berlin 2018 Euros] and we want to attract as many viewers as possible to the stadium in August. To achieve this goal, it is not only the work of the organisers, but also our work, as athletes. We want to motivate people to taken on sports, and to come and watch the Euros,” said Mester.
Mester won silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics in the men’s shot put F40, and gold in the men’s javelin F40/41 at both the Assen 2006 and Lyon 2013 World Championships. Last year, he took bronze in the same event at the London 2017 Worlds.
At Berlin 2018, he will go for his third medal in the Euros following gold at Swansea 2014 and silver at Grosseto 2016, both in the men’s javelin. Before that, Mester will take part in every Kiez Cup.
“To me it is an obvious choice to take part in the event and all initiatives related to the European Championships.”
Saturday’s Cup will also feature nine-time Paralympic champion Marianne Buggenhagen, who competed in Para athletics between the Barcelona 1992 and the Rio 2016 Games.
Buggenhagen will meet the public and talk about her successful career together with the CEO of the Berlin 2018 LOC Klaas Brose, who will give an update about the preparations for the competition.
“Athletics is something fun to do together, no matter if you have an impairment or not. This initiative is something for today’s and also future generations in Berlin. Those who look at it and do not try it will be missing something,” said Brose.
Another important participant is yet to have an official name. Para Panda is the mascot of the Berlin 2018 Para Athletics Euros and will have its name chosen by the public in a contest to be announced soon.
Meanwhile, Para Panda has already joined Mester and tried to race in a wheelchair in the first Kiez Cup which took place at Hellersddorf-Marzahn last week. The mascot has 100 days to improve its skills before it showcases its ability in front of the crowd during the Euros.