"We have been committed to top-level sport for years. Since the start of 2002, BEGO has been a 'co-partner for Germany' of the Nationales Olympisches Komitee (NOK) [National Olympic Committee] and of Deutsche Sporthilfe (DSH) [German Sport Aid]. The most recent highlight was the realisation of the Go for Gold dental practice project in Athens. The Olympic Games, the atmosphere and the competitions have all been an unforgettable experience." This was how Christoph Weiss, partner and Managing Director of BEGO, summed up his impressions at a press conference in Berlin on 3 September.
Around 100 treatments in all, as well as countless consultations, were carried out at the Go for Gold dental surgery. Christoph Weiss thanked all those who had been involved in the project, in particular the team of five dentists for their selfless and energetic support. The success of the project confirms the views of all those who were convinced of the importance of offering a facility like this.
"Toothache is a topic of great relevance to the Olympic Games ¿ we knew that from the start. But in Athens it proved to be a permanently burning issue. Of course we were completely delighted by this. Word quickly got around among the athletes about the service we offered, and we had plenty to do. I think this was not just because they didn't have to pay ten euros in dental charges," said Dr Romeike.
"The media carried daily reports of Olympic contestants with dental problems -- like Tobias Schellenberg, the 3-meter synchronized diver, who in spite of an inflammation of the root shared the silver medal with Andreas Wels. Something that very few people knew was that Sonja Kesselschläger, the heptathlete, came to the Go for Gold surgery with toothache right after competing. Of course it is hard to say whether or not she would have had better chances of winning a medal if she had not been suffering from toothache," said Dr Glaser, the initiator and head of the Go for Gold surgery.
Dentist Dr Michael Weiss attributes the considerable importance of the provision of dental care at sports events to the fact that "in the run-up to a competition, top-rank athletes simply suppress anything that could be a distraction. When they are no longer under pressure, then it all comes out."
When preparing for major sporting events, top sportsmen like Hinrich Romeike, the mixed equestrian competitor, make a point of being fit -- and that includes their teeth. Nothing is easier to avoid than toothache, and that is why, in the months before Athens, he made regular visits to his uncle's dental surgery. Unfortunately it didn't work out with the medal, as everyone has heard by this time. "The protest of the other teams resulted in an emotional roller-coaster ride, ending with the award of the gold medal being withdrawn," Romeike comments. "When, after the competition, I sat down in the dentist's chair in the German House and bit into the gold medal -- of course there wasn't a problem -- I had no idea about any of this."
Claudia Bokel visited the Go for Gold dental surgery before her team fencing competition. "The reason," she says, "was an inflammation of the gum, which had been bothering me for some days." The dentist who treated her, Dr Gunter Glaser, plainly had a premonition that she was going to carry off a medal, as he recommended that she should also have her teeth professionally cleaned, so that they would be superlatively clean when she came to bite into the medals. She and her team won silver. "If I had known that after a visit to the dentist I would win a medal, I would definitely also have visited the Go for Gold surgery before competing in the individual championship," added Ms Bokel.
BEGO supports the dental health of top athletes in a thoroughly pragmatic way. A treatment pass offers all athletes of the A and B groups the possibility of using BEGO's materials free of charge. Over 120 athletes have already taken advantage of this offer, among them Antje Buschschulte, four times women's world champion, and this year competing in Athens as one of the German Olympic swimming team.
But it was not only actively competing athletes who visited the Go for Gold surgery. Sven Ottke had a new filling put in, and others, like Ulrike Meyfarth, took advantage of the opportunity of finding out about new methods of modern dental treatment. The range of these included prophylaxis, bleaching and dental cosmetics and extended as far as gold inlays, provision of BEGO Semados implants and new CAD/CAM methods.
The final impressions of DSM [Deutsche Sport-Marketing: German Sport Marketing] and the NOK were likewise positive. Axel Achten, DSM's Managing Director, is convinced that "the Medical Center's services provided through the Go for Gold dental surgery, with the support of a German team of dentists, just gave the visitors a welcome sense that they were in safe hands."
So it gives no cause for surprise that at the end of the event BEGO and DSM announced that their commitment to top-level sport, and likewise their co-partnership, will be continued at the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Turin, and also when the Olympic Games are hosted in Beijing in the summer of 2008.
Christoph Weiss summed it up: "Our commitment to top-level sport has this symbolic aspect: when top performance is honoured with the award of gold, we at BEGO -- as gold suppliers -- feel that it has a special meaning for us."