One of the more unusual sites during the Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro has been the workshop set up in the centre of the athlete's village.
At first glance the hive of activity and enormous range of technical equipment you'd think this was a Formula 1 pit lane garage. However, there are no engines in the cutting edge parts being serviced here. This is Ottobock Technical Repair centre that provides free technical and repair services to Paralympic athletes and officials regardless of the brand of prosthetic, orthotic or wheelchair they use.
These workshops are staffed by a family of 100 world class prosthetists, orthotists and wheelchair technicians from 31 countries, and are fully stocked with spare parts to provide athletes the confidence that their technical and repair service needs will be met quickly and expertly.
Ottobock is a world leader in technologically advanced mobility products, including sports wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and the carbon fibre blades used by runners.
Their amazing Paralympic journey 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.
Ottobock's Technical Service provision has grown at every subsequent games and in Rio it extends to mobile service centres at each of the 20 Paralympic venues around the city, as well as in the main village. These track and court-side centres seamlessly provide repair and maintenance to Paralympians, ensuring they can quickly return to competition.
More than 75% of their work is repairing wheelchairs, some of which are still broken by the airline handlers even before the athletes touch down in Rio. On the ground the focus is on fine tuning the space age chairs used for athletics, replacing strained parts from constant twisting and turning for tennis and rebuilding the chairs used in contact sports such as basketball and rugby.
So, at the same time as celebrating the great sporting achievements over the coming weeks, we'd like to salute the 100 Ottobock craftspeople whose own unseen achieving achievements enable the athletes to have their best chance of making their dreams to come true.