German Athletes Seek to Leverage Home Advantage at European Para Athletics Championships 2018
Preparations are in full swing for the European Para Athletics Championships that will be held in Berlin, Germany in August 2018. The enticing thought of creating history on home grounds is firing up the spirit of German athletes.
For German medalists, Alhassane Balde and Niko Kappel, the event could prove to be another milestone in their sporting journeys.
Balde, a rolling chair racer, was paralyzed at birth due to a defect in his spinal cord. The 31-year old made his senior international debut at the 2003 European Championships in Assen, The Netherlands. At this year’s World Championships, Balde won the bronze medal in the men’s 1,500m and 5,000m T54 races, one of the most competitive races in para athletics. For Balde, the chance to perform before cheering home crowds is a huge motivating factor.
Niko Kappel may only be about 1.4 meters tall, but his sporting career has already reached lofty heights. At the Summer Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the shot-put champion had secured a gold medal in the F41 category. Like his peers, Kappel too believes that playing at the home turf would go a long way in increasing his drive to reach his goal.
For the younger contenders, the European Para Athletics 2018 will provide a great platform for experiencing a major global championship before they go on to compete in the next Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo next year.
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