Errol Marklein, six-time Paralympics winner of 1988, Business Development Manager Sport for Europe and “head” of the #TeamSunrise, talks about the partnership with Team Germany, the cancellation of the Paralympics in Tokyo as well as the resulting effects on Team Sunrise and possible “loss of radiance” from existing partnerships.
Errol, the Paralympics were cancelled due to the Corana virus. How did the athletes of #TeamSunrise, who shed a lot of sweat in preparation and invested life time, react to the cancellation?
“Without exception, the Team Sunrise Ambassadors have rated the cancellation as positive. It is clear to everyone that this measure will serve the good of all. Even if it hits every athlete right in the heart for not being able to show their skills in competition, health is above anything else.
What effects will the cancellation have on the coming training weeks? What will they look like?
“The next weeks will, as usual, be used first of all to continue training. This is important in order not to lose the rhythm. In the next step, the training will then, in terms of time, be geared towards the next competition. In principle, the athlete can currently focus on general endurance, technique and product/material.
Sunrise Medical also invests a lot to support the athletes with whom it has a partnership. This is not an end in itself, but also marketing. In other words: Sunrise Medical, RGK and SOPUR hope to make a positive contribution to their image and brand values. And the Paralympics, in particular, offer a corresponding framework to increase the charisma. Can you say what kind of charisma you lose due to lower visibility? Is that a bit more tangible?
“It is difficult to make a reliable statement. In fact, Sunrise is very close to its customers with its Ambassadors. The Paralympics are of course a global platform on and through which our activities are communicated. However, the social media world continues to be a good motor for communicating the values and visions of Sunrise, our Ambassadors and those of our partners accordingly”.
“Sunrise will be able to best compensate for the postponement of the Paralympics by further expanding its social media activities.”
Where there is shadow, there is light. What chances do you see for your team and the existing sponsorships by postponing the games in Tokyo?
“Speaking for the Team Sunrise, we have a very stable situation. The trusting, respectful and genuine cooperation with the Ambassadors and our sponsors is now paying off. Everyone feels the cohesion and the unbroken support from and for each individual. This makes the team mentally very strong and gives the individual the strength at the decisive moment, which the competition may not have. The Team Sunrise motto “ONE TEAM. ONE WILL.” takes hold and works. Especially now, this is more important than ever.”
As an experienced athlete and team manager you also accompany the partnership between Sunrise Medical/RGK and the wheelchair basketball players of Team Germany. How have you experienced the partnership so far? What “impact” does the sponsoring have on the Sunrise Medical/RGK goals?
“The partnership is bearing good fruit. Here too we experience how our customers and those who want to become customers exchange ideas with each other. In the end, quality prevails in all areas. The quality of the exchange, the advice, the product, the further development and last but not least the dialogue with our customers is what counts”.
In a word, then…
Recently it was also reported that you have started a cooperation with Wellspect, who are also involved in wheelchair basketball. What are the mutual expectations of this cooperation?
“Wellspect and Sunrise, in the same breath I would also like to mention Schwalbe, live the same values. Making these values public and setting an example is in line with our mutual expectations. All three want to cooperate with customers and challenge and support each other in order to secure the future for superior products and their availability.”
I have the feeling that Paralympic sport has a lot of power and still a lot of potential that needs to be released. Do you share my opinion? And if so, what do you think needs to happen to further push the sport, the athletes and all those involved?
“Paralympic sport is extremely attractive and can inspire and carry everyone away. So we must reach everyone first.”
“The appeal goes quite clearly to the responsible persons of any media institution to report more and even better about Paralympic sports. There is still a lack of expert commentators or co-commentators whose presence would also help to transport the sport in terms of content. What is, so to speak, “day-to-day business” in soccer still has to be worked on or fought for in Paralympic sport”.
Errol, thank you for your time.
Interview: Martin Schenk | Photo: Sunrise Medical