POSTED: March 1st 2011

Verena's vision for 2018 is Paralympics with passion in Munich

On message; Verena Bentele talking up Munich's bid / Munich2018
On message; Verena Bentele talking up Munich's bid / Munich2018

KEIR RADNEDGE in Munich / Sports Features Communications

MUNICH, Mar 01: When Verena Bentele says that German sports fans offer a unique level of support for Paralympic athletes she is not engaging in mere hyperbole to stoke up the claims of Munich as 2018 Winter Games host.

She knows it.

Bentele has been skiing almost as long as she has been walking, since the age of three. She won five gold medals in Vancouver last year and totals 12 in cross-country skiing and biathlon in all - before anyone starts counting the silvers and bronze.

She has also been blind from birth but that in no way restricts the sporting vision she has developed over 15 years of international competition including four Winter Games.

Munich is currently playing host to the evaluation commission of the International Olympic Committee which, it hopes, will value its 2018 claim beyond those of Annecy and PyeongChang when it comes to the vote on July 6 in Durban.

Bentele was a sharp choice - the day after celebrating her 29th birthday - to be among the first athletes delivering The Message in support of the Bavarian capital’s bid to become the first city to host both summer and winter Games.

Shopping stress

She told the 14-strong commission: “Germans fans celebrate their paralympic heroes just as passionately as their Olympic heroes. I can’t walk down the street without someone asking for an autograph so sometimes my shopping takes a little longer than it should - but it’s an amazing feeling.

“What matters [to our sports fans] is not whether an athlete is impaired but watching an athlete striving to achieve something extraordinary. When I came home with my five gold medals my entire town celebrated.”

Germany success, organisation and self-generated local popularity of the relevant disciplines were among the reasons cited by Bentele.

She added: “Every paralympic athlete loves to compete here. Accessible venues and transportation are improving all over the world: wherever you compete now you can expect great facilities.

“Germany, however, has an added special ingredient. When it comes to atmosphere there is nowhere quite like it. Nowhere has such incredibly passionate fans delivering the best for every paralympian.”

Keywords · IOC · evaluation commission · Bentele · Munich · 2018 Winter Olympics

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