Ottobock has been proactively supporting Paralympic sports for over three decades. The company is a loyal partner to the International Paralympic Committee and its passion for the Paralympics is an inherent part of the company’s DNA. The businesses are proud to be able to support so many athletes with disabilities. In keeping with our motto “Passion for Paralympics”, we do everything we can for their mobility.
From the 100-metre sprint to wheelchair basketball, the triathlon to sledge hockey– athletes at the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games perform amazing physical feats in numerous disciplines. Many athletes at the Paralympic Games use technical devices that are exposed to extreme stress and strain during their competitions; wheelchairs in particular are often damaged during intense contact sports. In many cases, this can potentially put athletes out of the game, and this is why a technical service team is indispensable at the Paralympic Games. We take care of all the technical details so that Paralympians can focus fully on their performance and the competition. Ottobock support the Paralympic Games with an on-site, international team of clinicians and technicians. They set up Technical Repair Service Centres close to the Athletes’ Village as well as in selected training and competition venues. They also have a fully equipped mobile Technical Repair Service Centre. Experienced prosthetists, orthotists, wheelchair specialists and welders ensure that equipment is professionally repaired and maintained – regardless of the athletes’ nationalities or the brands of their prostheses, orthoses and wheelchairs.
The Technical Repair Service Centres are often buzzing with activity and some people compare them with motorsport pit lanes for this reason. But unlike pit stop mechanics, the team of technicians carry out repairs and maintenance work for thousands of top athletes who use custom equipment to compete in various types of sports. Fulfilling this task calls for specialist knowledge and the ability to work under high pressure. Just like the pit stops in Formula One, technical support is provided as a united effort in the Ottobock Technical Repair Service Centres.
Russell Pizzey, Former Head of Technical Services for Ottobock UK recalls his experiences at the Paralympics:
“From a personal perspective, I have always enjoyed challenges – and working at the Paralympics is exactly that; you never know what you will be faced with from one moment to the next! It could range from repairing a wheelchair or a piece of equipment such as a pair of spectacles, to manufacturing a laminated Ankle Foot Orthosis or a prosthetic socket, all within a very short period of time. In some cases, a repair may take place in the “holding area” which is located a short distance from where the athlete enters the track to compete, at this point the pressure is off the scale, as you know that these athletes have invested four years of hard work and this all hangs in the balance as to whether you can carry out their repair within a short time frame.
“The athletes look on anxiously whilst the officials give the count down to the time remaining before they have to close the gate – it could be game over at this point as it is down to you and the members of your technical team to get that athlete to the starting line. Once this is achieved, it is an immensely proud moment for the technical services team, especially when the athlete returns to say “thank you” and on some occasions they are sporting a medal; some even ask for a celebratory photo with the team – that’s a very special occasion!
“The technical services team becomes a family unit, as you work, eat and socialise for the 2/3-week period of the Games, with many of us being there a week before setting up the workshop and meeting and greeting the athletes, some of which are already visiting the workshop for repairs due to damages that have occurred whilst traveling to the Games. The challenges start from the moment you arrive – however for me it’s an absolute privilege to be able to help any athlete to fulfil their ambitions in competing during these wonderful Games.”
Find out more about Ottobock at ottobock.co.uk.
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