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Budokan Hünxe judoka compete in the Special Olympics

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The judoka Thorben von Kneten and Lukas Ehrlich from Budokan Hünxe fight in the Unified Judo Kata at the Special Olympics in Berlin.

Thorben von Kneten has been doing sports for as long as he can remember. He started judo at the age of nine, but before that he was already in a gymnastics club and still has fun on the trampoline. But judo has long been his specialty. At the Special Olympics in Berlin he started this week in Unified Judo Kata together with his Unified partner Lukas Ehrlich. People with and without intellectual disabilities start together in unified teams. Like the two judoka of the Budokan Hünxe.

Since the beginning of the year, 24-year-old Thorben von Kneten and his one-year-younger partner, Lukas Ehrlich, have been training together. Before that, von Kneten had formed a unified duo with his mother Beate, but she was injured last year and a new partner had to be found. In this case it wasn’t that difficult. Sergio Sessini, trainer of the Budokan Hünxe, asked Ehrlichsmann whether he would like to take part, and “Now I’m in Berlin,” Ehrlichsmann adds.

The duo pretty much matches what the Special Olympics movement has in mind for Unified competitions: one team, roughly the same age and skill level. Come to von Kneten/Ehresmann. “We fit together perfectly,” confirms Thorben von Kneten. His partner nods. Just like Gabriele Gramsch, who has been a trainer for more than twenty years. “I think it’s great that we have young people like Lukas who live the idea of ​​inclusion,” says the special education teacher, herself the mother of a son with a disability. “I also feel valued as a mother when we have unified partners who play sports with our children.”

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Lukas Ehrlich also likes the cooperation very much: “In inclusive sport you simply get a completely different perspective. Not just for sport and training, but for the world in general. I find that so beautiful.”




Unified sport has long been established in the Budokan Hünxe. Five couples are currently training together, also with the help of a cooperation with the two clubs TB Osterfeld and PSV Oberhausen, both of which offer inclusive sports and are therefore very familiar with the topic. The fact that it works so well has to do with the networking, which Lukas Ehrlich explains: “You know each other, the other then knows someone again, and that’s how it grows together.”


Like him and Thorben von Kneten, who, unlike his partner, is an old hand at kata. “Kata is something else. I had to learn that first,” says Ehrlich, who before that only fought as a judoka. Judo kata are defined and named sequences of techniques that are evaluated by five judges, with the evaluation in unified competition also taking into account whether the two move synchronously. “It looks easy from the outside, but it’s incredibly tiring because every movement has to be precise and synchronized,” says Ehrenfeld. “In any case, I leave the mat sweaty with both.” In the Corona period, getting into kata even had advantages: Because training is always carried out with the same partners, this group was allowed to start again much earlier than the judo fighters.

While his unified partner is only used in kata, Thorben von Kneten is also at the start of the judo fight in Berlin this week and has a lot to do with it. But he seems relaxed, the slightly increasing excitement before the first start is hardly noticeable. “I really enjoy both,” he says.

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Relief for trainer Gramsch

In addition to being active in sports, he is also involved in a club. Only recently did he pass the exam to become a group assistant or trainer assistant and is now passing on his knowledge directly. “When I warm up, I tell the others what we’re going to do now. Or I also look after the little ones,” he describes his work, which relieves trainers like Gabriele Gramsch. “It’s a great support for us when the young people help us,” she says. And for Thorben von Kneten another important step towards social participation. So a classic win-win situation. Just like the unified sport in general, which is just as fun for athletes as their unified partner and brings with it many shared experiences and successes.


More articles from this category can be found here: Dinslaken Hünxe Voerde


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