Bronze medalist Leonie Maria Walter (L) of Germany celebrate with her guide Pirmin Strecker during the awarding ceremony of the Para Biathlon Women's Individual Vision Impaired event of Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games at National Biathlon Center in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, March 11, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhao Zishuo)
German Paralympic official has spoke highly of the country's para athletes at Beijing 2022.
By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Leonie Walter proudly carried the German flag at the impressive closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
At her Olympic debut, the 18-year-old athlete from the Black Forest became one of the new faces of the German team and, at the same time, stands for future hopes after an ongoing generation change.
Her one gold and three bronze medals came as a surprise as the success of 15-year-old Linn Kazmaier did. The visually impaired cross-country skier and biathlete won five medals in six competitions.
Linn Kazmaier (R) of Germany, together with her guide Florian Baumann, competes during the Para Cross-Country Skiing Women's Middle Distance Vision Impaired final of Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at National Biathlon Center in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, March 12, 2022. (Xinhua/Xue Yuge)
Kazmaier contributed one gold, three silver, and one bronze medal, with only 17 German starters harvesting 19 medals ending up as seventh in the medal ranking. Germany won four golds, eight silvers, and seven bronze medals.
The German association president Julius Beucher encouraged young talents to follow the example and praised China's efforts in talent scouting. "We have all reason to take the Games as a motivation boost. For now, we must admit we have to improve when it comes to the number of athletes competing."
To attract more talents is a task for parents and teachers as they can initiate a starting point by sending youngsters to workshops, Beucher added.
He hopes the Beijing Games have a sustained effect on para-sports.
The official said the German association is highly satisfied with the performance as the goal to reach the top ten has been accomplished. "We have gained more medals than expected and have witnessed athletes competing with passion and desire," Beucher added.
The German official credited Walter and Kazmaier, Germany's role models for para-athletes. "They have made the Games for us. They showed determination to win. Two great talents are making their way," he added.
Both were supposed to gain experience. "Now they gained experience in collecting medals, that's a big surprise."
Kazmaier became the second-youngest starter at the 2022 Beijing Games.
Experienced skier Anna-Lena Forster delivered an important contribution to the country's medals.
The 26-year-old won two golds and two silver medals. "I overall enjoyed the Games as everything worked perfectly and took place in an atmosphere supporting the athletes," Forster stated.
Overwhelmed by her emotions, skier Andrea Rothfuss was flooded in tears after taking bronze at her fifth Olympic start. The 32-year-old said her Beijing medal means more to her than the gold she claimed at Sochi 2014.
Rothfuss in total won 14 medals in her career.
Similar emotional biathlete and German Opening Ceremony flag bearer, 32-year-old Martin Fleig, announced his retirement after a silver medal following his gold in 2018.