“It is a great sport and I love to compete and to win. For me, sailing is more than just a sport.”
Winning last May’s Para World Sailing World Championships gave Heiko Kroeger the necessary confidence boost ahead of Rio 2016, where he will try to reclaim the Paralympic title he won 16 years ago, in Sydney.
Germany’s 50-year-old won silver at London 2012 and, four years after, feels prepared to take another leap forward and become the first double Paralympic champion in the one-person 2.4 Norlin OD class.
“I can win gold, but this Games are going to be much different from the ones in Sydney,” he said.
“The World Championships was a good test for Rio 2016 and good for my self-confidence. I was able to show my skills to my rivals, that I am still there.”
France’s four-time world champion and Athens 2004 gold medallist Damien Seguin, Australia’s Matthew Buggs, who won this year’s Hyeres World Cup, and Great Britain’s reigning Paralympic champion Helena Lucas will be hard-to-beat opponents.
“The level of the competition is much higher now, with many talented sailors, but I hope to stay healthy and go for a medal,” said Kroeger.
Since sailing’s introduction to the Paralympic programme at Sydney 2000, Kroeger has taken part in every edition.
“I am hoping to see something different this time, in Rio,” he said.
Even though he claimed the first Paralympic gold, Kroeger said that was not the biggest achievement in his career.
“The silver I won at London 2012 was much harder to achieve, thus I think that was bigger for me,” he said.
After many years competing, Kroeger believes he can still set higher goals.
“It is a great sport and I love to compete and to win. For me, sailing is more than just a sport,” he said.
“I would like to see our sport getting the same attention as the Olympic sports.”
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.