Special Olympics at the Berlin Marathon

Athletes run for equality and inclusion

Special Olympics Africa Region
4 min readOct 3, 2022

Best atmosphere, best conditions. The 48th Berlin Marathon across the capital is an annual highlight for long-distance runners. The Special Olympics movement was also started by several runners. The athletes showed what they are capable of in the center of Berlin.

Nyasha Derera, Special Olympics Zimbabwe

One of more than 45,000 participants is Nyasha Derera from Zimbabwe. The 26-year-old athlete has fulfilled a big dream. By starting on the Straße des 17. Juni went for the first time at an international competition on the full marathon distance of 42, 195 kilometers.

“To start in Berlin was a wish I had for a long time — and then I also got to go out on the course with so many fast runners. Eliud Kipchoge is my role model. Thanks to Berlin. A great city with great people.

Berlin is the right place for a marathon — and the best place for the Special Olympics World Games next year. Then I will come again!”, Derera summed up his happiness after the race.

Off the marathon course, Nyasha Derera is Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger for the Special Olympics movement. In this role, he has been a spokesperson and leader around the world advocating for an inclusive world for people with intellectual disabilities and challenging the mindset in societies.

Special Olympics Zimbabwe athlete Nyasha Derera has been beating the odds for his entire life.

From his childhood, Nyasha was isolated as “different” and placed in special school programs away from his friends.

Determined to integrate himself back with his peers, Nyasha discovered a passion for running through his participation in Special Olympics. Since his introduction to Special Olympics in 2012, Nyasha has earned over 20 medals in various athletics competitions.

This past weekend, Nyasha accomplished another lifelong goal of his: to run in the Berlin Marathon.

Two days before the race, Nyasha met his role model Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, one of the most accomplished runners in history. Eliud has won four Olympics medals in his career, including golds in the marathon event at 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo.

Eliud wrote a simple message on Nyasha’s bib number that he would wear during the race: “No human is limited.”

He was right.

Nyasha finished the Berlin Marathon on 25 September 2022 in 4 hours and 51 minutes, not quite a personal best, but for him, the pinnacle of a dream fulfilled.

While Nyasha’s running accomplishments speak for themselves, he would tell you his most important feat is the impact he’s made on others, particularly his fellow peers with intellectual disabilities.

Now a Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM), Nyasha has become a voice for the voiceless and is one of the most requested motivational speakers within the organization.

In his first year alone as a SSIGM, Nyasha delivered remarks at Special Olympics World Headquarters, the United Nations, and the press conference formally announcing the 2023 Special Olympics World Games location in… where else… Berlin.

Nyasha will play a pivotal role during next summer’s Berlin World Games and will surely be an inspirational figure to the athletes competing in athletics events.

Oh, and as for Nyasha’s new friend Eliud Kipchoge? It seems Nyasha inspired the accomplished Olympian, too.

Two days after meeting Nyasha, Eliud smashed the Berlin Marathon world record by running it in 2 hours and 1 minute.

15 other Special Olympics athletes were on the track. Gerome Busse, Michaele Caspar, Jenny Degner, Detlef Große, Michael Hufenbach, Martin Ick, Leona Johs, Dennis Jugel, Desmond Krampah, Martin Köhler, Rosi König, Sascha Kunkel, Jann Rathenow, Kirsten Reeves, Heribert Schregel, Johannes Schwenzer, Sercan Tokay, Justin Vendree, Pratheepan Vimaleswaran, and Max Zabel. They started at the big archway of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, which announced the last 2.195 kilometers of the marathon.

What should not be missing in all the jubilation now: A big thank you to the organizer of the Berlin Marathon, SCC Events, who also made the start of Nyasha Derera as well as the participation of the many other runners* from Berlin and Brandenburg possible. #ZusammenUnschlagbar for more participation of people with intellectual and multiple disabilities.



Special Olympics Africa Region

Revealing the champion inside all of us, every day around the world and in Africa! Sports and health programming for people with intellectual disabilities.