Paralympic Athletes Excite Berlin

More than 42,000 people flocked to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, to experience the excitement of the International Paralympic Day 2007. 23 Aug 2007 By IPC

“Today gives us the perfect opportunity to spread the message of the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Movement."

The event, hosted by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), gave visitors the chance to watch their favourite Paralympic athletes in action, as well put their own sporting talent to the test by trying out several sports, including Biathlon, Table Tennis, Football 5-a-side and Wheelchair Basketball.

As always, one of the highlights was the Long Jump competition. The crowed gasped as Germany’s Matthias Schröder jumped an astonishing 6.85m (class F13). Thomas Ulbricht (GER) came second of the clearing 6.24m, followed closely by Casey Tibbs (USA) with 6.14m (F44). In the women’s Long Jump competition Germany’s Katrin Müller-Rothgardt jumped the furthest distance of 5.06m (F13).

The German men’s U22 team defeated the women’s Chinese National Team in Wheelchair Basketball by 54:22. Cheers came from the National Team of Bosnia and Herzegowina in Sitting Volleyball as they beat Germany two sets to one. Spain defeated Germany in the Football 5-a-side match.

Adressing the crowd in his opening speech, IPC President Sir Philip Craven said: “This is a very special day - a time when Paralympic athletes step into the spotlight to showcase their talents for the sheer joy – to demonstrate their strength and skill and atmosphere of fun and excitement that has become the trademark of the Paralympic Games."

“And what an amazing place to do it! Germany’s most historical and recognizable monument makes a stunning backdrop and magnet for the attention of the world,” he added.

When he was not making speeches or being interviewed by the media, Sir Philip found time to relive his days as a Wheelchair Basketball athlete by throwing hoops with former British Wheelchair Basketball player Ade Adepitan. He played Table Tennis with German player Holger Nikelis. And among those trying their hand at Biathlon and Table Tennis was the Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxemberg.

The Grand Duchess, was one of many high profile supporters who attended the event. Also in attendance was the Lord Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit; German Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries; Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt; Gerhard Ruprecht from Allianz; Stefan Althoff from Deutsche Telekom; Hay K. Yang, President Samsung Europe; Joachim Hammacher from Otto Bock; representatives of the German government and London 2012 Ambassador Ade Adepitan.

Commenting on the value of the IPD, Ade said: “Today gives us the perfect opportunity to spread the message of the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Movement. First and foremost though it is about enjoying the sport. Once you believe you can be part of it, you just need to join your local club and be the best you can be.”