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One of the undoubted highlights on our school calendar is the bi-annual Sportolympiade of the five German schools of Southern Africa (DSJ, Deutsche Internationale Schule Kapstadt, Deutsche Schule Pretoria, Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek and Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg) as well as athletes from Ethiopia. The first running of the Sportolympiade took place in Pretoria in 1986 and was the brainchild of Günther Kesselmann from Windhoek.
As the name suggests, it is a sporting showpiece where athletes partake in the following disciplines: athletics, handball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis and swimming. The DSJ has played host to three editions of the Sportolympiade (1990, 2000 and 2014) and has won 12 of the 17 which have taken place.
The Sportolympiade usually lasts the duration of a week and includes opening and closing ceremonies. Both ceremonies are special for different reasons, with the opening providing terrific entertainment while the closing ceremony provides a totally different atmosphere. The sense of anticipation ahead of the announcement of the results creates a truly special environment.
Traditionally each team will consist of approximately 50 athletes plus the coaching staff. While competition on the field is fierce, the Sportolympiade is more than just a simple sporting battle. It builds friendships and instills the values of the ‘Olympic Spirit’. There is also a real sense of ‘community’ as visiting athletes are accommodated by families of the host school.
To host an Sportolympiade is no easy task and requires months and sometimes years of planning by the organisers – all of which can change if the weather does not play its part.
Possibly the most famous DSJ Sportolympiade ‘graduate’ is Dominik Meichtry (Grade 12 2003). Dominik represented Switzerland at three Olympic Games (2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London) and won over 30 Swiss national titles.