Special Olympics deliver pure gold in Munich

Germany's annual Special Olympics drew to a close on Friday, after 5,000 athletes with learning disabilities gathered in Munich to compete for medals over the five-day-long competition.

Special Olympics deliver pure gold in Munich
Daniel Herdrich (r) takes on Markus Schreiner (l) in a Judo match Photo: DPA

The event, which was founded in 1991, attracts athletes of all ages from across Germany to compete. This year more than 5,000 took part and were watched by up to 25,000 people who descended on Munich’s Olympic stadium each day.

With a choice of 19 different sports which ranged from badminton and swimming to the more unorthodox – like roller skating – competitors were often split into ability groups. There are thus more gold medals up for grabs than in the international Olympics or Paralympics.

Typically, entrants have some kind of learning disability but can be of any age and this year one woman entered for the first time at the age of 50.

German President Joachim Gauck was present, along with other high-ranking politicians, at the opening ceremony. He gave a speech to the crowd stressing the importance of sport in integrating people with learning difficulties into general society.

“Sport is a good way to raise public awareness [about learning disabilities]” 72-year-old Gauck said at the ceremony.

Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer was also present at Monday’s ceremony. “Sport builds bridges, it connects people,” he said.

A selection of entrants will go on to compete in the international Special Olympics in the South Korean next year. Others will be getting involved early 2013 in the Winter Special Olympics set to be held in Bavaria.

DPA/The Local/jcw

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Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.