19.06.2022, Berlin: Behindertensport: Teilnehmer verfolgenden die Eröffnungsfeier der Special Olympics Nationalen Spiele 2022 im Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Unter dem Motto «Zusammen unschlagbar» treten knapp 4000 Athletinnen und Athleten in 20 verschiedenen Sportarten bis zum 24. Juni 2022 gegeneinander an und haben die Chance, sich für die «Special Olympic World Games» zu qualifizieren. Foto: Christoph Soeder/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Sometimes you can take giant steps even in sports shoes. As with the national Special Olympics in Berlin, the organizers are convinced that they have significantly promoted inclusion in everyday life.

“Due to the national games, we have a completely different perception. We’re making progress with huge mileage boots,” said Christiane Krajewski, President of Special Olympics Germany (SOD), at the final press conference in the Olympic Stadium.

From Sunday to Friday, June 24th, around 4000 athletes determined their winners in 20 sports at various locations in the city. The games were qualifying competitions for the World Games, which will also take place in Berlin from June 17th to 25th, 2023. The quality was right. And: “The perception has increased positively. This is a very big milestone for 2023,” said athlete spokesman Mark Solomeyer of the dpa agency.

The spotlight was once again on sports for people with disabilities, in blazing sunshine and bathing weather. Philipp Lahm, a member of the World Games Committee, was impressed by the “emotions and passion”. “A sensational mood. You rarely experience this passion.”

The 2014 soccer world champion is also responsible for the 2024 European Soccer Championship in Germany, and he called on other celebrities to publicly advocate for inclusion. The emotional opening ceremony in the An der Alten Försterei stadium made an impression, and there was an athletes disco at the Brandenburg Gate.

The German Para Sprinter relay runners also have reason to celebrate – and to hope. After a six-year break from competition, the 4 x 100 meter relay set a world record at the sports festival in Leverkusen. Phil Grolla from Wolfsburg, Johannes Floors and Markus Rehm from Leverkusen as well as Felix Streng, who lives in London and starts for Wetzlar, were 21 hundredths faster than the USA in 40.52 seconds.

Floors and Streng in the sprint and Rehm in the long jump are also individual Paralympic champions. “It was cool to run a relay like this again. I think that was the case last time in Rio. I hope we’ll have it back in our program in Paris,” Streng said.

The German quartet with Streng, Rehm, Floors and David Behre won gold at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Then the discipline was taken from the Para and World Championship program and replaced by a mixed relay. “We were hoping for a bit of the world record,” Rehm told dpa: “But we last did it a few years ago. And it was just as much fun as it was back then.”

So good news from the para scene. And one more thing: The Catholic news agency was also happy with Paralympics winner and shot putter Niko Kappel (27), who received the “DJK Ethics Prize for Sports 2022” from the Catholic Sports Association in Stuttgart for “outstanding commitment to inclusion”.

Well, and then there’s the fallen hero, Oscar Pistorius. The jailed South African ex-sportsman has met his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp’s parents after nine years in prison as part of his rehab. He has to sit for a total of 13 years. I don’t feel like celebrating anymore at the thought of the shots through the door. But the principle of resocialization applies, even in this case.