Ottobock at the Paralympic Games

Ottobock has been promoting sports for people with a disability for more than three decades.

Our commitment to the Paralympics began when four prosthetists from Australia recognized the need for repair and maintenance of Paralympic athletes’ equipment during competition and set up service in an improvised workshop at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games.

The service was expanded for the Barcelona1992 Paralympic Games to include a mobile workshop staffed by a team of 10 technicians from 5 countries. Ottobock has been part of all summer and winter Paralympic Games ever since. By London 2012 Ottobock’s technical service operation had grown into a multi-national team of 80 technicians speaking 20 languages and working out of workshops in the three Athletes’ Villages and nine training and competition venues, all supported by a mobile unit.

At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, Ottobock expanded its commitment to the Paralympic movement to include public education. The Ottobock Snow Dome provided visitors with a hands-on Paralympic sport experience. The success of the Snow Dome inspired Ottobock to develop an interactive multi-media travelling exhibition. Currently touring Asia, it showcases how Ottobock technology is used by Paralympic athletes and all people with a disability both on and off the field of play.


Summer Games

1988 Seoul, South Korea

Technicians: 4 | Athletes: 3,057 | Nations: 61 | Fans: 75,000 (Opening ceremony spectators)

The Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games were, at that time, the largest and best-facilitated in Games history. They gave a new generation of Paralympic athletes the opportunity to compete in many of the well-designed and well-constructed facilities used previously for the Olympic Games. For the first time a free technical service for all athletes was provided by Ottobock.

1992 Barcelona, Spain

Technicians: 12 | Athletes: 3,001| Nations: 83 | Fans: 65,000 (Opening ceremony spectators)

Ottobock installs a mobile orthopaedic workshop in the Paralympic Village, which houses 3,001 athletes.

Seoul was a watershed moment. It showed that great things can be accomplished when athletes and experienced technicians work closely together. In Barcelona, Ottobock set up a fully-equipped mobile workshop for the first time to give Paralympians direct access to their experts.

1996 Atlanta, USA

Technicians: 25 | Athletes: 3,259 | Nations: 104 | Fans: 388,373

The workshop expands: 25 Ottobock technicians handle 1,100 repairs.

The trend continued in Atlanta. More and more athletes competed in the Paralympic Games. The public’s interest grew, too. Nearly 400,000 spectators and over 2,000 members of the media came to watch the competition. The Ottobock workshop had more and more to do.

2000 Sydney, Australia

Technicians: 60 | Athletes: 3,881 | Nations: 122 | Fans: 1,200,000

The Ottobock team includes 60 orthopaedic technicians from 11 countries.

Fanie Lombard was leading the Pentathlon when the knee joint in his prosthetic leg broke out of its anchor. Ottobock’s technicians raced to repair it right in the stadium. The South African remained in contention and eventually won gold. The number of spectators reached 1.2 million – more than twice as many as in Atlanta

2004 Athens, Greece

Technicians: 68 | Athletes: 3,808 | Nations: 135 | Fans: 850,000

68 technicians handle more than 2,000 repairs in the repair centres.

The Iranian national Wheelchair Basketball team’s hopes of competing in the Paralympic Games were nearly shattered when they arrived in Athens. Their wheelchairs, which had been disassembled for the flight, were missing tiny but important washers. Replacement parts for the entire team would take time – precious time Iran didn’t have with the Games beginning the following day. Improvisation quickly became the day’s buzzword.

2008 Beijing, China

Technicians: 86 | Athletes: 3,951 | Nations: 146 | Fans: 1,820,000

Ottobock technicians work around the clock to complete 2,188 repairs during the Games.

Madagascar’s Josefa Harijaona wanted to have the foot of his old aluminium and leather prosthesis repaired. Ottobock’s technicians saw little hope of fixing the outdated foot and offered to build him a new one. Josefa declined the offer because he couldn’t afford it. He could hardly believe his ears when he was told that he wouldn’t have to pay for the service.

2012, London, Great Britain

Technicians: 80 | Athletes: 4,294 | Nations: 164 | Fans: 2,200,000

This was Ottobock’s 12th time delivering technical service at the Paralympic Games and the 80 person team included prosthetists, orthotists, wheelchair technicians and welders.

The international team worked more than 10,000 hours completing more than 2,062 repairs to the equipment used by Paralympians to train and compete. Repair centres were set up in all three Athletes' Villages, as well as nine competition venues and the athletics warm-up track. A mobile repair centre provided back-up support and technical service for the marathon.

2016 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Technical Service Team: 100 | Athletes: 4,350 | Nations: 176 | Fans: 1.8 million

From September 7 – 18, 2016 Latin America hosted the Paralympic Games for the first time.

Athletes competed in 22 sports including, new on the programme for 2016, Paracanoe and Paratriathlon. Competition venues across Rio de Janeiro were served by Ottobock providing comprehensive technical service next to the field of play, as well as in the Athletes’ villages.

Winter Games

1992 Tignes-Albertville, France

Technicians: 7 | Athletes: 365 | Nations: 24

In 1992 only 77 of the 365 competitors at the Tignes-Albertville 1992 Winter Paralympics were women.

The Paralympic Winter Games in Tignes-Albertville were the first to take place in the same location as the Olympics. Ottobock offered technical services for the first time at the Paralympic Winter Games.

1998 Nagano, Japan

Technicians: 20 | Athletes: 561 | Nations: 31 | Fans: 151,376

The 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, were the first Paralympic Winter Games to be held outside Europe.

Young Canadian Mark Ludbrook – a below-knee amputee – broke his aluminium ankle joint in a training run. After just five hours in the workshop, his prosthetic leg was as good as new and Mark was back out on the race course. Ottobock’s service team in Nagano was led by German-Japanese orthopaedic specialist Koiichi Tsukishiro.

2002 Salt Lake City, USA

For the first time the total number of tickets available had to be increased due to high demand.

Slovakia’s Iveta Chlebakova brought her prosthetic arm to the Ottobock’s workshop on the eve of the Giant Slalom. Underneath her cosmetic glove the technicians found the hand had been shattered into countless pieces. Overnight the team constructed a completely new arm. The next day, after winning bronze, Iveta stopped by the workshop to show off her new medal and gave technician Robert Laermann her start number as a token of gratitude.

2006 Turin, Italy

Technicians: 32 | Athletes: 474 | Nations: 38 | Fans: 162,974

Wheelchair Curling made its Paralympic debut at the Torino Paralympic Winter Games.

Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus and Greta Khndzrtsyan of Armenia were their team’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony beginning in just a few hours. But both had a problem with the brackets on their wheelchairs. At the Ottobock workshop in Sestriere, new ones were welded for them and the two arrived at the Olympic Stadium in Torino just in time.

2010 Vancouver, Canada

Athletes: 502 | Nations: 44 | Fans: 230,000

With a theme of „One Inspires Many“, the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver featured over 5,000 local performers.

In cooperation with the International Paralympic Committee, Ottobock presented “Spirit in Motion – Discover What Moves Us” – a public exhibition built right in the heart of Whistler. The “Snow Dome” attracted nearly 25,000 visitors and showed just how much interest has grown in the history and technology behind competitive sports for athletes with a disability.

2014 Sochi, Russia

Technicians: 28 | Athletes: 550 | Nations: 45 | Fans: 316,200

Athletes at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games were supported by a 28 strong Ottobock team providing technical service for the 13th time.

Workshops were set up in the two Athletes’ Villages and three competition venues. Ice sledge hockey created much of the demand and the team included welders to repair sleds damaged during this intense contact sport. Ottobock was also prepared with flag-holders to attach to the wheelchairs of flag-bearers to allow them to proudly lead their teams into the opening and closing ceremonies.