Running, playing sports and having fun with a prosthesis – that's what the 17 young people with amputations who took part in Talent days 2022 this weekend had to look forward to – a joint sports camp organized by TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, the health tech company Ottobock and the German Disabled Sports Association. From Friday to Sunday, the camp offered participants the best possible conditions for their training in the TSV Bayer 04 athletics hall.
Enjoying the Talent days 2022: Johannes Floors and the young participants.
While the young athletes were reminded of the recently completed Paralympics in Beijing at most by the cold weather when they arrived in front of the hall, the picture inside the hall was in no way inferior to the highlight event of para-sports in terms of professionalism. In addition to the experienced coaches, such as Heinrich Popow, multiple Paralympics winner as well as World and European champion, or Helena Pietsch, national coach of the German Para athletics youngsters, orthopaedic technicians were also available to the young athletes for fittings on all three days. Thanks to this service provided by Ottobock and Lentes Prothesenwerkstatt from Leverkusen, the participants were able to concentrate on the sport from the very first moment.
An exchange on medical issues with users, therapists and parents was also provided for: Dr. Jennifer Ernst, specialist in the field of tumor surgery and amputation medicine at the Hanover Medical School Clinic, took time for detailed discussions. "I'm mega happy that I got the opportunity to be part of the Talent days, to train with professionals and learn from them," says a delighted Daniel Fener, who is missing both lower legs after an amputation. Even during the first meeting on Friday evening, he enjoyed the "relaxed atmosphere" among participants, athletes and coaches. After an individual fitting of the sports prostheses provided by Ottobock, it was time for the motivated children and young adults to try things out and have fun. Paralympics stars such as Johannes Floors, Léon Schäfer, Tom Sengua Malutedi and Irmgard Bensusan stood by their side during the experience and provided important tips and tricks for the long jump, sprint or shot put. "It was absolutely fulfilling to run on it or just stand on it," says transfemoral amputee participant Tanja about her first experience on a sports prosthesis: "I don't know the last time I was so happy. While running on the spring, all fears, anxieties, worries and negative feelings were gone."
"Seeing that pure joy brings tears to everyone's eyes. It's exhausting, but talent days is something I would love to have every weekend," beamed Leverkusen's junior coach Sara Grädtke. Heinrich Popow also emphasized the importance of the camp for the participants: "I am very happy that the Talent days have gained such momentum and I am happy that we can give more and more children and young adults the opportunity to test sports prostheses. Sports are extremely important for health, psyche and personal development and increase the quality of life enormously." In addition to the sports program, the participants and their parents were able to obtain comprehensive information on other topics, such as how a sports prosthesis is technically constructed, which guidelines apply for the reimbursement of the aid, or how the promotion of young talent in the German Sports Association for the Disabled works.
As a crowning finale, a race against the stars awaited the young talents on Sunday. Although the top athletes still had the edge on the tartan track, the weekend was a complete success for all participants: "Training here together with top athletes from para-sports, with role models, is a great inspiration," Daniel Fener aptly sums up the Talent days. Those who would also like to participate in the Ottobock Talent Days don't have to wait long: The next sports camp will take place in Leverkusen from September 16-18, 2022.