Mentally handicapped players from Baden-Württemberg put their stamp on the table tennis competition at the National Games of the Special Olympics in Berlin. The best result was achieved by the 54-year-old Bietigheimer Hartmut Freund with two gold medals in singles and in “unified doubles” each in the highest performance class. This time, however, younger athletes from the state such as Julia Rottmayer, Sebastian Rösenberg, Sandra Frosch and Ann-Kathrin Irschik also did surprisingly well in the Olympic Park’s ice rink. More than 2,000 athletes took part in the competitions, which are held every four years in various sports, including well over 200 in table tennis.
The unified doubles, where a mentally handicapped and a non-handicapped player always form a common doubles, was very exciting. Freund, who is eligible to play for TTC Bietigheim-Bissingen in regular sports and competes in disabled sports for TSG Reutlingen-Inclusive and BSV Walldorf, competed with Heinrich Schullerer from TSV Schmiden. The two silver medal winners of the World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019 narrowly lost a match in the preliminary round, but in the final round of the three strongest duos they gave it their all when they clearly distanced their competitors from North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia. They also deservedly won in that they were the only doubles team in the highest performance class to meet the Special Olympics requirement that disabled and able-bodied athletes should be about equally powerful.
In the second strongest performance class of the unified doubles, young hopefuls took home Sebastian Rösenberg (SV Ettenkirch) and his able-bodied partner Tommy Nielsen (TSV Bollingstedt-Gammellund, Schleswig-Holstein) also gold. Freund and Rösenberg had previously clearly dominated the individual competitions in their age groups (Freund in the over-51s class, Rösenberg in the under-30s class) and each won gold in the highest performance class without dropping a single set. Freund won the individual title for the fourth time in a row.
In the women’s category, the one that started at the National Games of the Special Olympics for the first time surprised everyone Julia Rottmeyer, who competes in regular sports for TTC Reutlingen and in disabled sports for TSG Reutlingen Inclusive. In a purely Baden-Württemberg duel of athletes under 30 years of age, she beat in the individual final of the strongest performance class that of the Bundesliga referee Alexandra Schork (TTC Schefflenz). Ann-Kathrin Irschik from the Johannes-Diakonie Mosbach in 2:0 sentences. Also delivered a great competition Sandra Frog from TTC Hegnach, who was only stopped in the final by Katrin Kerkau from Thuringia in the women’s singles over 30 years. Frosch is considered the best German table tennis player with Down syndrome.