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German firm keeps Paralympians running

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 02:40

The London 2012 Paralympic Games are due to be the most high-profile disabled Games ever. German company Ottobock is the official wheelchair, prosthetic and orthotic technical service provider for the Games, and is repairing and maintaining the equipment used by athletes during the Games. Reuters TV visits one of the workshops and looks at what kind of a boost the Games could give to the company. Joanna Partridge reports.

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He'd been training for months but as the Paralympic Games approached, Team GB discus thrower Derek Derenalagi hit problems. SOUNDBITE: Derek Derenalagi, Paralympic Team GB athlete, saying (English): "There was a gap on both of the valves on each side of my legs and every time I took a step, the legs fell off." Derek's one of hundreds of athletes visiting Ottobock's workshop in the Athletes' Village to make sure his equipment is as ready for the competition as he is. Everything from wheelchairs to prosthetic limbs can get a final check. The German firm is the official technical service provider at the Paralympics. They've brought 13 tonnes of equipment and 15,000 spare parts to London. 12 welders will on duty during the Wheelchair Rugby and Basketball competitions. And their 80 technicians will be speaking 25 languages. They expect to carry out around 150 repairs per day says Peter Franzel. SOUNDBITE: Peter Franzel, Ottobock Organising Director for Technical Service, saying (English): "It starts to pump up tyres and it ends up to build a new prosthesis." Ottobock started sending technicians to the Games in 1988. Nowadays, the workshops provide Ottobock with some essential customer feedback says Michael Hasenpusch, the firm's Chief Technology Officer. SOUNDBITE: Michael Hasenpusch, Ottobock Chief Technology Officer, saying (English): "Our technicians get in contact with athletes from all over the world, they see which technology has developed locally. Most importantly they collect the feedback from the users directly. What is missing, how the wish list of the users look like and we can derive ideas from that." The London Games are the most high-profile Paralympics ever. While the competition may not lead directly to more sales, Chief Marketing Officer Christin Gunkel says it allows them to display their products on the world stage. SOUNDBITE: Christin Gunkel, Ottobock Chief Marketing Manager, saying (English): "Not everybody who has been to the workshop will go back and buy an Ottobock wheelchair, an Ottobock prosthetic limb. But of course yes this is a great showcase of our competence, what we can do and our technology. We basically want to inspire people, show them what's possible and at best they come back to Ottobock." Record ticket sales mean 2.4 million spectators will be watching the events - well over the 1.8 million sold for the Beijing Games. The competition will also be watched by the biggest-ever broadcast audience. With that level of interest Ottobock will clearly benefit from having products on the podium along with the athletes. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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German firm keeps Paralympians running

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 02:40