Professional Sports with a Social Function
f.l.t.r.: Dr. Helmut Pfuhl (Otto Bock HealthCare), Heinrich Popow, Sir Phil Craven (IPC), Chris Holmes (LOCOG)
The importance of experienced prosthetists who are enthusiastic about sports for the success of the Paralympics was the focal point of a press conference at the Otto Bock Science Center Medical Technology in Berlin. 553 days before the opening ceremonies in London, British and German journalists learned about the objectives jointly pursued by the organisation committee LOCOG, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Otto Bock HealthCare, the company in charge of technical service.
LOCOG is placing its trust in the company that has been accumulating Paralympics know-how since 1988 in Seoul. IPC president Sir Philip Craven welcomes the decision: "I feel at home here at Otto Bock. The spirit of the company is a good fit for our Paralympic movement." Next to Otto Bock, the British retail chain Sainsbury's is the only sponsor with an exclusive Paralympics focus. According to Sir Philip Craven, Sainsbury's has put together the most generous sponsoring package in the history of the company. The Paralympics are being brought to the public at more than 1000 stores across the country.
Chris Holmes says this is the first time that all Olympic Games sponsors are also supporting the Paralympics. He is responsible for the integration of Paralympic matters into the overall organisation of the Olympic Games and Paralympics at LOCOG. With nine gold medals in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000), the swimmer who lost his sight at the age of 14 years combines success and experience. He knows what matters to the athletes: "Those who participate in the Paralympics envision the goal of doing their best and giving their all in the competitions. It is the most important moment after years of training. Therein lies great responsibility for technical and medical service, and that responsibility rests with us."
Dr. Helmut Pfuhl, responsible for strategy and marketing at Otto Bock HealthCare, views the partnership with LOCOG as part of a concept based on continuity and reliability: "We have been promoting sports for people with disabilities for more than three decades. At the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, Otto Bock realised that we can do more than product development. We can offer direct support to athletes at the venues. This commitment has become part of our company philosophy."
There is also agreement that the positive publicity of the Paralympics with rapidly growing media coverage should be put to use in favour of "inclusion", equal rights for people with disabilities as defined by the United Nations. "As the Paralympic community, we are part of society. That applies around the world," Sir Craven says. Holmes adds: "The high social relevance of the Paralympics will gain even greater significance in light of current demographic trends." Dr. Helmut Pfuhl refers to Beijing 2008 as a concrete example: "The Paralympics resulted in positive change for the lives of people with disabilities in China, not just during the games but also afterwards."
The key to publicity is held by the athletes through their performance and their image. For them Heinrich Popow, recent double World Champion in the 100 metres and the long jump at the Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, highlights the importance of technical service for the Paralympics. "We consistently train for the highlight that comes around every four years and also work on our mental toughness. All of that is done before we go to a competition. But if your prosthesis doesn't work perfectly at the crucial moment, all that training was in vain. This is why the athletes may ask about the cafeteria and internet cafe when they arrive, but then the first thing they ask about is Otto Bock."
Otto Bock HealthCare is a modern, success-oriented MedTech company with tradition, a global player with local roots.
With a network of worldwide 43 sales and service locations and export contacts to 140 countries in the world, Otto Bock is in an excellent position.
Worldwide, our name stands for high-quality and technologically outstanding products and services in Orthobionic® and Bionicmobility®. Our activities are people-oriented: Our high-tech products in the product segments prostheses and orthoses as well as wheelchairs and neuroimplants serve to provide people with the highest degree of mobility and independence.
Aside from these core sector of Orthobionic®, Bionicmobility® comprises a further competence field of Otto Bock. It offers, for one, an entire program of manual and power wheelchairs and products for children’s rehabilitation. In addition, with the development of neuroimplants in Bionicmobility®, Otto Bock achieved a breakthrough in medical technology.
Director of Corporate Communication / Company Spokesman
Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH, Max-Näder-Str. 15, 37115 Duderstadt, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)5527 848-3036, Fax: +49 (0)5527 848-3360
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