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'Together strong for Germany' - five reasons for their strength at Special Olympics

Team Germany at the Opening of the Winter Games in Schladming (Photo: SOD/Jörg Brügemann OSTKREUZO)
by Christian A. Hoch, AIPS Young Reporter, Germany

GRAZ, March 20, 2017 – Germany, with a 120-strong team, has one of the biggest delegations at the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017. With a slogan: “Together strong for Germany”, they want to represent their country as successfully as they can. Here are five reasons for Germany's strength and power in the Special Olympics movement.

Team Spirit

This is one of the most important aspects to achieve success in such a big event. Germany's athletes have a strong connection between them. One example: the snowboard delegation came from Schladming to Graz to support teammates playing floor hockey.

Steven Wilkinson, a 27-year old snowboard athlete from Dusseldorf has a simple explanation: “We are real friends and know each other. That is why we support each other very often. It is a lot of fun for me to work with the team – I really enjoy it.”

The coaches and officials are also close to their athletes. Judith Zeeb, one of Germany's coaches, says: “For me it is necessary to have a powerful bond between each other. The athletes give me so much back, it is very emotional to work with them.” This is Zeeb's first time at the World Games.

Professionalism

More than 40,000 people with intellectual disabilities in Germany have the chance to take part in sports they enjoy. There are more than 200 competitions under Special Olympics conditions every year in Germany so the structures are professional and modern. That is possible because of 1,100 organizations which support Special Olympics Germany.

In addition to that, the athletes must train twice in a week to improve their quality. If not, they have no chance to take part at the World Games. To train twice a week is a good platform from which to compete at the World Games and be successful.

Values

Wiebke Linneman, assistant head of the delegation, described the team's values by saying: “We are open to other cultures and want to learn from other nationalities. Furthermore, we are very tolerant towards all people.” Such an ethical approach has allowed Germany to learned a lot over recent years and improve themselves in the Special Olympics movement.

Emotions

Another essential point for Wiebke Linneman is “that we have really strong emotions and that we also show them.” So there is a cheerful fire in the German delegation as well. Without such emotion, the athletes would not be able to learn from their mistakes or become more self-confident because of their victories.

Tradition

Founded in 1991, Special Olympics Germany has a rich history with many interesting stories. For 25 years they have competed in many World Winter Games. That is why they are experienced and thus know how to cope with the pressure in such a big event. This is a huge advantage for Germany in comparison with some other teams who lack such experience.

Team spirit, professionalism, values, emotions and tradition - these five reasons explain Germany's strength in Special Olympics and why they can bring such a big delegation. If they are able to maintain these values they will have great success in the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017.

Follow Christian A. Hoch on Twitter @c_a_hoch

The Young Reporters Programme has been made possible thanks to the support of the European Union's Erasmus + programme

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