Thursday, 29 September 2016

Spotlight on Cuba

Professor Näder welcomes paralympic athletes in Havana

A little more than a week has passed since the Paralympic fire was extinguished in Rio de Janeiro / Brazil. But the paralympic athletes from Cuba had little difficulty in saying goodbye – given the first-class reception which awaited them on their arrival back home.

Representatives from the Cuban Paralympic Committee, the Handicapped Sports Association and the relief organisation mediCuba awaited the athletes at Havana airport when they returned on 21.09.2016. Professor Hans Georg Näder, President of Ottobock and patron of the Paralympics right from the start, was also present at the scene, which was followed by a party in honour of the athletes. Their sporting achievements were celebrated in style in the residence of the German ambassador Thomas Karl Neisinger, with some 100 guests attending the event by invitation.

The paralympic athletes were discovered just one year ago, in the course of a "Running Clinic" organised by Ottobock for prosthesis wearers. Heinrich Popow, gold medal winner for long jump at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, not only acted as a trainer at this Running Clinic, but was also personally present in Havana to congratulate his protégés. It was he who first recognised the athletic potential of the participants. But even he was surprised when Malu Pérez Iser made it to the podium just one year after taking her first steps with a carbon spring, winning the bronze medal for long jump.

Professor Näder is convinced that Cuba is a country with potential. "Seeing the athletic successes during the Paralympics has convinced me yet more that we should keep our eyes on Cuba. There is a great deal of scope for Ottobock to offer support here – not only in the sports sector, but also helping local orthopaedic technology to develop," explains Professor Näder.

This year, Ottobock opened a permanent office in Havana, under the direction of Ottobock Brazil. The Brazil branch was founded in 1975 to promote the introduction of mobility aids to Latin America. Today, the company is also firmly established in Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

In the course of his current visit to Cuba, Professor Näder also met the deputy Cuban Minister of Health, Dr. José Angel Portal Miranda, and talked to him about possible future collaboration. The talks also looked at expanding Ottobock's training programme for Cuban O&P professionals. Ottobock has already been collaborating successfully with the Cuban Centre for Orthopaedic Technology (CNOT) for many years.

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