The German Disabled Sports Association (DBS) is traveling to the Paralympics in Beijing with just 18 athletes and six guides. Due to persistent physical problems, the eight-time Paralympic champion Andrea Eskau from Magdeburg is missing from the squad.
The 50-year-old was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang in 2018 and won a total of six medals in cross-country skiing and biathlon, two of them gold.
“Of course that’s a shame, but it’s not the end of the world either. I’m just not in the physical condition to compete at the highest level in sport,” said Eskau. The total number is also so low because Germany failed to qualify in the team sports of sledge hockey and curling. In Pyeongchang, the DBS was represented by 20 athletes.
17-year-old Merle Menje from Singen, who celebrated a notable Paralympic debut in a racing wheelchair in the summer, is also giving up her winter debut in cross-country skiing for personal reasons. Medal supplier Anna Schaffelhuber ended her career after the games four years ago after a total of seven Paralympic gold medals in alpine para sports.
This is one of the reasons why expectations are modest this year. “It’s a pity that we weren’t able to use all possible starting positions, primarily due to injuries and illnesses,” said Chef de Mission Karl Quade: “Especially at the Winter Games, sporting success often depended on the exceptional performance of individuals.”
In 2018, Germany was fifth in the medal table. Together with people from the functional team – trainers, doctors and supervisors – the German delegation will consist of a total of 63 people. Nine German athletes and thus half of the German squad will make their Paralympic debut in Beijing.
The German squad for the games in Beijing:
Alpine skiing: Anna-Lena Forster (Radolfzell), Christoph Glötzner (Neumarkt), Leander Kress (Friedberg), Anna-Maria Rieder (Murnau), Noemi Ristau (Marburg), Andrea Rothfuss (Mitteltal-Obertal)
Nordic skiing: Alexander Ehler, Marco Maier (both Kirchzarten), Martin Fleig, Nico Messinger (both Freiburg), Linn Kazmaier (Römerstein), Clara Klug (Munich), Johanna Recktenwald (St. Wendel), Leonie Walter (St. Peter ), Anja Wicker (Stuttgart)
Snowboard: Matthias Keller (Offenburg), Manuel Neß, Christian Schmiedt (both Gemering)