Germany’s Jurgen Schrapp playing in six editions of the Paralympic Games has seen the sport evolve and change for more than two decades – everything from the organisation to the development of women’s sitting volleyball.
He started with a distinct praise for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which despite the absence of the spectators inside the venues, still delivered at the highest level to its participants.
“Every Paralympics has its own characteristics. I think here, we had a well-organised tournament, everything was perfect as it was just the spectators were missing, but the kindness and how the volunteers supported us during these two weeks were amazing. It’s even worse not to have this excitement in the hall without the spectators, but that was the frame of the Games,” Schrapp said.
“The Japanese would have deserved to have a different Games but we are very happy that the Games took place and it was another step in the Paralympic development when I look at professionalism and how the Games have been organised. It was just amazing.”
For the discipline itself, Schrapp pointed out that sitting volleyball teams have changed technically and tactically, and the women’s game have stepped up as well.
“There is much more professionalism now, there’s more scouting and much more analytics to the game. I think also the level of the teams is much higher when it comes to how they play and fare against each other. RPC, Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina may be standing out of it but there are a lot of teams that are very close at the men’s level.
“The women’s game has also developed nicely. When I look at the level of USA, China, RPC, it has come a long way. I started in 1996, in my first Paralympics, so it’s been a long way. I’m really happy to be part of that.”
After playing in five Paralympic Games since 1996, only missing out on Beijing 2008, Schrapp was in Switzerland when his return to Germany came as a blessing as he sort of came out of retirement to make it to his sixth Paralympics in Tokyo.
“It was not really a retirement. It was for business reasons in Switzerland for five years, and there was really no way to play sitting volleyball there. Unfortunately there was no sitting volleyball team existing in Switzerland so I could not practice. With the delay of the Games, I returned to Germany and I still had a chance to return to the team for the qualifier and now for the Games,” Schrapp explained.
Germany finished sixth overall in Tokyo and with Paris 2024 just three years away, Schrapp is not closing any door on pursuing a seventh Paralympic Games stint.
“I hope so. I think it’s about the team to qualify. I hope I can still stay in shape for another three years, but the World Championship is just out there, so maybe we will be in China and it’s already the first chance to qualify for Pars. That’s our next target after the European Championship in October. We would love to be in Paris, but it would be difficult especially in the European zone because we have a lot of teams playing at a high level.”