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20 September 2012
The President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoît Battistelli, was joined by the Mayor of the Municipality of Rijswijk, Herman Klitsie, the French Ambassador in the Netherlands, Pierre Henri Menat, and dozens of colleagues at a reception today at the EPO's office in The Hague in honour of patent examiner Thierry Schmitter, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London in the Single-Person Keelboat category.
President Battistelli paid tribute to Mr Schmitter's outstanding athletic accomplishments, saying that "his courage and perseverance command our highest respect". "Since taking up competition sailing in 2000, he has carved out a hugely impressive sporting career, competing not only with disabled sailors like himself, but also with able-bodied sportsmen and -women," said Mr Battistelli. "We, your colleagues at the EPO, are truly proud of you and what you have managed to accomplish."
Thierry Schmitter, who works as a patent examiner in The Hague in the field of combustion engines, said that he would like "to prove that people with a handicap can not only be part of society, but that they can be achievers". He thanked the EPO for being a supportive employer over the years.
Mr Schmitter was named Dutch Disabled Sportsman of the Year in 2011. He won a bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, and came in fifth at the Beijing games in 2008.