The Kiel 2.4mR sailor Heiko Kröger, 38, is the flag bearer of the German team at the XII. Summer Paralympic Games. At the opening ceremony next Friday evening, the man from Kiel will carry the black, red and gold flag in front of the 332-strong federal delegation in the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
The Paralympic competitions will then take place from September 18th to 28th. The German disabled sailors are represented by five participants. YACHT online will bring results, reports and background information on a daily basis.
"It is a great honor and pleasure for me to be able to lead the German athletes as the flagship," said Kröger of the German press agency. The German team management, led by Karl Quade, had selected the sailor from the Kiel Yacht Club from among eight candidates. In the decision, Kröger's previous successes may have played a role, among other things.
He had already won the gold medal in Sydney four years ago. In 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003 he had also secured the 2.4mR world championship title. With his victory at the world championships for the non-disabled, he also exemplifies the idea of integration, emphasized Karl Quade.
Before the Agios Kosmas Sailing Center in the south of Athens, Heiko Kröger wants to defend his gold medal in the 2.4 one-man keelboat from Saturday. The first of nine races will start on September 18th at 1pm. He does not fear any disadvantages due to the long opening ceremony compared to more rested competitors. "I'm used to relatively little sleep," said Kröger
He already has to overcome the first hurdle: the measurement of the boats is on the program. And there are difficulties. "My boat is too heavy. Somewhere water has probably got into the floats that we have not yet been able to find," Kröger reported to YACHT online this morning. If necessary, so the Kieler, he would have to fall back on the replacement boat that he has with him. "It's already five years old, but still in top condition," said Kröger.
Besides him, other sailors will be at the start in front of Athens. In the three-man keelboat Sonar, Jens Kroker from the Berlin-Grünau Yacht Club will try to top the success of Sydney. Four years ago, the 1999 and 2002 world champion won the silver medal at the Paralympics. In addition to the helmsman Kroker, the sonar team includes club colleagues Hans-Peter Reichel and Olaf Jacobs as well as Ludger Grote from the disabled sports club in Münster.
Starting next weekend, YACHT will report online daily on the sailing competitions, provide information on the results and provide background information.