For most professional athletes it’s not all about fast cars, fancy restaurants and swanky hotels. It’s about managing your time, resources and expectations and that requires organisation, dedication but above all a genuine passion for your sport. Two things these next two Athlete Role Models have in abundance.
“I think when it gets too serious the fun of practising your sport is lost,” said Slovakian cross-country skier Petra Majdic. “You should never feel that you are an athlete performing on behalf of someone else, it is your sport because you like it.”
From arriving at her first Olympic Winter Games in 2002 with the wrong equipment, no waxing team or a coach by her side only to secure 5th place, to winning an Olympic bronze medal at Vancouver 2010 despite having five broken ribs following a bad fall, Petra has battled the odds to get to the top of her sport and it’s clear there is a passion that drives her. “I have never stopped believing in myself,” she adds. “And if you are fair to others it will come back to you one day.”
German curler Uli Kapp never considered his hobby would become his profession, but when he got the opportunity to represent his country at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games everything changed and he took a year off from studying law to concentrate on his sport.
“I became a multitasker in my field of sport,” he recalled. “Ice maker, trainer, event organiser, TV expert, book author, ambassador, consultant… and yes (occasionally), I was playing curling as well!
Never giving up on his studies, Uli, who now practises as a lawyer, explained that his experience at the top taught him a valuable lesson that he hopes to share with the young athletes going to Innsbruck 2012. “Sport might be a ‘door opener’ but educational and professional skills pave the way for a career after sport,” the curling champ concluded.