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19-24 June 2022
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#UnbeatableTogether at Unified Sports®

On the photo you see the Unified team together with their coach from left to right: Athlete Thorben von Kneten, coach Gabriele Gramsch and partner Lukas Ehresmann. They stand arm in arm in front of a blue wall on that you see the Special Olympics National Games Berlin 2022 logo.
Interview Sportler Thorben von Kneten (Judo) und seinem Unified Partner Lukas Ehresmann und Trainerin Gabriele Gramsch vom 1. Budokan Huenxe e.V. (NRW)
Anna Spindelndreier

#UnbeatableTogether is the motto of our Games. And unbeatable together is exactly how athlete Thorben von Kneten and his Unified partner Lukas Ehresmann started into the judo Unified Kata Competitions.

A bit of background: In Unified Sports®, people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together. And at the National Games Berlin 2022, there are Unified pairs and teams in all sports except roller skating and powerlifting.

We spoke to Thorben and Lukas, as well as their coach Gabriele Gramsch, to learn a little more about the successful Unified team.

At the age of nine, now 24-year-old Thorben started with judo. And since the beginning of the year he has been training in Unified Kata judo with his new partner Lukas, who is one year younger.

In inclusive sports, you simply get a completely different perspective. I think that is so nice.
Lukas Ehresmann
Unified partner judo

Unified Kata competitions are predetermined sequences of techniques that are evaluated by the judges. Whether the two move in sync is also taken into account.

"It looks easy from the outside, but it's incredibly strenuous because every movement has to be right and in sync," says Lukas. "In any case, I get off the mat sweaty the same for both forms of judo."

"We're a great match," says Thorben. And his partner Lukas nods in confirmation: "In inclusive sports, you simply get a completely different perspective. Not just on the sport and training, but on the world in general. I think that's so nice."

Coach Gabriele is also happy about the commitment: "I think it's great that we have young people like Lukas who live the idea of inclusion."

In their club 1. Budokan Hünxe, five teams are currently training together, also with the help of a cooperation with the two clubs TB Osterfeld and PSV Oberhausen.

On the photo you see two male judoka who compete together. The one lies on his back and the other one is pushing him down to the ground. In the background you see further judoka who compete together and practice.

The fact that this works so well has to do with networking, which Lukas explains quite simply: "One knows someone, the other then knows someone else again, and so it grows."

Thorben is also competing individually in judo this week and in addition to active sports, he is involved in the club as a trainer's assistant: "During warm-ups, I tell the others what we're doing now. Or I look after the little ones," he describes his work.

In this way he supports the coaches and at the same time takes another step towards social participation, a classic win-win situation.

Just like Unified Sports® in general, which is just as much fun for athletes as it is for their Unified partners and which brings with it many shared experiences and successes.

 
Further Informationen about judo at the Special Olympics National Games Berlin 2022 can be found here.

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