(From left to right) Dr. Helmut Pfuhl (Otto Bock chief marketing officer globally), Heinrich Popow (Paralymphic athlete), Sir Philip Craven (IPC), and 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 recent press conference at the Otto Bock Science Center Medical Technology in Berlin.

Some 553 days before the opening ceremonies in London, the experts at Otto Bock spotlighted the objectives jointly pursued by the London Organising Committee of the Games (LOCOG), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and Otto Bock HealthCare, the company in charge of technical service.

"I feel at home here at Otto Bock. The spirit of the company is a good fit for our Paralympic movement," said Sir Philip Craven, IPC president.

Besides Otto Bock, the British retail chain Sainsbury’s is the only sponsor with an exclusive Paralympics focus.

This is the first time that all Olympic Games sponsors are also supporting the Paralympics, says Chris Holmes, who is responsible for the integration of Paralympic matters into the overall organization of the Olympic Games and Paralympics at LOCOG.

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," he said. "At the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, Otto Bock realized 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." Click here to access Paralympics information on Otto Bock’s Web site.

There is also agreement that the positive publicity of the Paralympics, with rapidly growing media coverage, should be put to use in favor of "inclusion," equal rights for people with disabilities, as defined by the United Nations.

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 4 years and also work on our mental toughness," Popow said. "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’s US headquarters is in Minneapolis.

[Source: Otto Bock]