"...his energy was unbelievable. He travelled the globe to really develop Para sports with an emphasis on wheelchair sports at the grassroots level"
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has sent its condolences to the family and friends of Horst Strohkendl, who was regarded as the godfather of wheelchair basketball classification, after the German passed away on 21 August.
Strohkendl dedicated most of his life to wheelchair sports since he first got involved in 1969. He was the pioneer, developer and author of classification in wheelchair basketball. He became Chairman of the first sport-specific classification committee of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF) and was part of the Executive Committee, alongside former IPC President Sir Philip Craven, when the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) established their independence. In 1998 Strohkendl received the IWBF’s Gold Medal Triad which recognises individuals who have contributed to the growth and development of wheelchair basketball in an outstanding manner on both the national and international levels.
Strohkendl also served on the IPC’s Classification Committee from 2012-2014.
IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “We are deeply saddened to have lost one of the pioneers of the Paralympic Movement in Horst Strohkendl. He brought special attention in developing and improving classification for each Para sport. He also truly believed that the athletes should remain the heart of classification, and his strong belief in that is what has kept the classification system grounded.”
IPC Medical and Scientific Director Peter Van de Vliet said: “Horst was an icon in Para sport. When I think of Horst, three things come to mind. First, he laid the foundation of sport-specific classification with wheelchair basketball being the first Para sport to go in this direction, and he did this in close partnership with former IPC President Sir Philip Craven and Armand ‘Tip’ Thiboutot.
“Second, he made sure that the athlete would continuously remain central and the forefront of classification. It is reflected in the introduction of the 2015 Classification Code.
“Third, his energy was unbelievable. He travelled the globe to really develop Para sports with an emphasis on wheelchair sports at the grassroots level.”
IWBF President Ulf Mehrens said: “We will always remember Horst for the impact and influence he had on the sport. He was one of the early leaders and the person who steered classification on a new route to be functional and not medical. He was always a great supporter of the game of wheelchair basketball and he will be truly missed by all of the wheelchair basketball community.”