The German Secretary of State for the Minister of Interior, Dr. Christoph Bergner has officially opened the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming European Championships at a glittering Ceremony in Berlin, Germany.
More than 440 swimmers from 36 countries are in the German capital for the event which will be one of the last major gatherings of international swimmers ahead of next year’s Paralympic Games in London.
Also in attendance at the Opening Ceremony was Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer who stressed in his opening speech how important the Championships would be for swimmers in their preparations for next year and the legacy their performances would leave.
Xavier Gonzalez said: “London 2012 is now just 424 days away and I am sure that many swimmers are using this Championship to check where they are at with their own preparations for those Games whilst keeping a close eye on the performances of their rivals.
“Because of this I expect to see many great record breaking performances between now and next Sunday. A number of rivals will settle a few old scores and a number of new rivalries will emerge.
“Your performances in this arena may just take a matter of seconds or minutes to complete, however they will go down in history for years to come and inspire millions around the globe.”
Gonzalez also paid tribute to the sizeable media contingent that is in Berlin. With more than 85 journalists from across Europe in attendance, the European Championships are set to generate more coverage than any other previous regional swimming event.
Xavier Gonzalez said: “To all the media and broadcasters, thank you for your continued support. It is through your commitment and coverage that more and more people are learning about, enjoying and participating in Paralympic Sport than ever before.
“I would especially like to thank YouTube who, for the first time, will be broadcasting every session of this event live to hundreds of millions of computers and mobile phones around the world.”
Finally, he paid tribute to the various people involved in ensuring the Championships are a success including sponsors, suppliers, volunteers, technical officials and the Local Organizing Committee.
The 2011 IPC Swimming European Championships take place between 3-7 July at the Europasportpark, Berlin.