“After being at previous Paralympic Games, I can say the awareness of Paralympic Sport has certainly increased, and today at the International Paralympic Day in Berlin that process continued,” President Koehler said.
Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), officially ended the day saying: “The Paralympic Movement has come a long way, and today the athletes were ready to show all of you, just what they are made of. Courage, Determination, Inspiration and Equality were enveloped in their skills and performances. It was a thrilling sight to be so close to such elite sport, and celebrating the spectacular events of the day with everyone here."
The big event took place under the patronage of Prof. Dr. Horst Koehler, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, who was also in attendance. “After being at previous Paralympic Games, I can say the awareness of Paralympic Sport has certainly increased, and today at the International Paralympic Day in Berlin that process continued,” President Koehler said. “After watching many of the athletes perform, we see that this is an elite world of sport with its own range of passion and emotions.”
The highlight of the day were two Long Jump competitions (class F12 and F44) during the late afternoon. Many international top athletes competed, including Maximilliano Rodriguez (ESP), Matthias Schroeder, Thomas Ulbricht, Joerg Trippen-Hilgers (all GER) and Ronan Pallier (FRA) as well as Andre Oliveira (BRA), Casey Tibbs (USA), Urs Kolly (SUI), Roberto La Barbera (ITA), Jean-Baptiste Alaize (FRA) and German athletes Nick Weihs and Markus Rehm.
Spectators lined the route from start to finish for the athletes in the Long Jump, enthusiastically cheering as an inofficial world record was set by Matthias Schroeder (F12), who jumped 7.47m.
In the following Long Jump competition (F44), Casey Tibbs took first with 6.55m, Roberto La Barbera took second with 6.46m, and Andre Oliveira took third, finishing with 6.37m.
Throughout the day, several Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Ruby Teams as well as Sitting Volleyball and Football 5-a-side Teams took over the court at Pariser Platz, including the German and Dutch Women’s National Team and the U21 Men’s Berlin/Brandenburg. Other sports over the day included Biathlon, Table Tennis, and Wheelchair Dance Sport.
For almost every sport presented at the IPD, top athletes were on-site to share their knowledge and provide guidance for several try-out activities. Paralympian Holger Nikelis for example, offered his expertise in Table Tennis and Verena and Michael Bentele offered theirs in Biathlon. With these demonstrations and athletes together, the public had the chance to get acquainted with the day-to-day challenges of persons with a disability.
Many of the visitors at the IPD 2009 in Berlin experienced Paralympic Sport for the first time. The day-long programme therefore, gave everyone involved the opportunity to learn about the Paralympic Movement and consequently become fans of the sports.
Some of the social activities which were part of the programme this year included Wheelchair Cheerleading and Dance Groups, Mini-Paralympics for children, and the aforementioned try-outs for all spectators willing to discover their own skills.
The partners for the IPD 2009 were also in full force at Pariser Platz, with various stands and exhibitions of their own, while at the same time supporting Paralympic Sport. IPC Gold Patron Deutsche Telekom for example presented Wheelchair Basketball at the event, and Biathlon was presented by the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA). IPC Gold Patron Allianz SE also had a stand at the event, giving visitors a chance to shoot a football in a goal with glasses simulating visual impairment. Event partner Deutsche Bahn, together with the German National Paralympic Committee (NPC) presented Football 5-a-Side, with the German Social Accident Insurance Association (DGUV) offering physical performance assessments throughout the day to visitors. Other partners, like Otto Bock Healthcare presented a Wheelchair obstacle course where visitors could experience the movement in a wheelchair.
Some of the other groups present in Berlin were the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Organizing Committees, Sumi, the Vancouver 2010 Mascot and all Candidate Cities for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo).
The IPD 2009 follows the enormous success of the IPD in 2007, 2005, and 2003, as well as the significant media coverage of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. The IPD in 2009 saw more than 58,000 people at the Brandenburg Gate to experience the excitement and inspiration behind each event and athlete.
The IPC was able to host this event through the active support of the IPC Gold Patrons Allianz SE and Deutsche Telekom, the IPC World Wide Partners Samsung and Otto Bock Health Care, the event partners Deutsche Bahn, the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA), the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), Volkswagen, the German National Paralympic Committee DBS, the German Ministry of the Interior (BMI) as well as the media partners Rundfunk Berlin- Brandenburg (RBB) and Tagesspiegel.