Due to the fact that my Rugby career ended, I was looking for another sport where I could compete at a high level in order to satisfy my competitive drive! In working with Wolfgang Unsoeld, who has done strength training for the Swiss national Bobsleigh team, he suggested I give Bobsleigh a try. After doing some research on the subject in Summer of 2016, I decicded to accept the challenge of competing in Bobsleigh.
And what a set of challenges it has been! From preparing for the sport to competing while working full time it has been a very challenging but also very rewarding journey so far. In these challenges and the associated hard work and hardship I have learned a lot about myself, not least what I am capable of.
Preparing for Bobsleigh
Not an easy task, considering I was still studying in Daytona Beach Florida, which isn't exaclty known for Bobsleigh. Not only that, but I hadn't done any running or sprinting workouts for roughly a year before making the decision to compete in Bobsleigh. This meant that, while I was very strong at the time, I was fairly heavy and somewhat out of shape regarding running and sprinting.
To improve upon my deficits I decided join the ERAU Track & Field team in 2016. I had previously done some work with Gary Ellington (ERAU TF Sprinting Coach) in the preseason 2014. Despite my change in athletic performance Ellington decided to give me another chance for which I am very thankful! Working around my class and work shedule we figured out a way to get me fast on the track again.
This was by far one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I have ever done. I went from being able to run without any problems as a rugby player to running with some amount of pain every day for 3 months. Imagine not running for a year and then starting a collegiate sprinting preseason program after gaining about 10kg (22lbs).
The daily grind was as real as it ever was. It was more intense than any physical challenge I had set myself to date, including competing at the Rugby european champsionshps 2012 while finishing up my IB Diploma. The grind was so real, not because it was extremely difficult, but because I was out of shape. However, I stuck with it and endured the necessary hardships, because I would not accept defeat. Ultimatley this experience tought me a lot about myself and what I am capable, the value of hard work and the mental strength to carry on in hard times.
The preparation was successful, as I won my first Bobsleigh competition, the bavarian 2-man bobsleigh champsionships 2017.
Bobsleigh while studying in Florida
Luckily the class chedule in the US works out to a lot of time off over the summer and some time off during the winter. I took the opportunity over the summer of 2017 to head down to Berchtesgaden to try my hand at pushing the sled. Turns out I had a knack for it, which showed me that my preparation was fruitful. Not only that, but I had a great time meeting meeting my coach and all the athletes involved and I quickly connected with my pilot Philipp Zielasko.
The decision to continue with bobseldding and to compete together in the winter time was made fairly quickly and I decided to spend my winter vacation in germany bobsledding. With a very steep learning curve I set out to learn how to work the sled on the track, off the track and everywhich way in between. Having only a very rudimental understanding of the whole process involved we competed in the 2018 Bavarian Championships. With great push times and great driving skills by Philipp we managed to take the title.
This marked the beginning of my Bobsledding career, and also the next challenge of Bobsledding while employed full time.
Bobsleigh while working full time
While I have always combined academic performance with athletic performance, I am now faced with a new challenge; combining employment performance with athletic performance. This new challenge is compounded by weekly and yearly time constraints that full time employment brings. In short, working 40 hours a week and fitting in 10 workouts a week added to the fact that I invest every single vacation day into competing, makes for a very busy schedule.
And that is the only way I manage to maintain performance at a high level in both areas. Time management. I have always made a shedule in order to prioritize my time and to maintain the discipline required to achieve my goals. However, now more than ever time management has become essential, as working hours are now less flexible and more time consuming than before.
Stress management is another key factor in conquering this challenge. While everyone experiences some level of stress it is more important what level of strain results. Here mental resilience plays a huge role and I am thankful for the opportunities of experiencing hardship such as my preparation for Bobsledding or the many Rugby Trainingcamps that I may now draw from. Not only do these experiences help me through today's challenges but today's challenges also make me more resiliant, which is a valuable feedback loop.
Therefore, I can say that competing in Bobsleigh with a full time job is extremely challenging but also very rewarding, both directly and indirectly.
The decision to end Bobsleigh
After roughly 4 years of tackling this challenge head on, 3 bobsleigh seasons, national team selection, junior European and World championships it was time to close my account. With participating in a junior World championship with stellar push times I can honestly say that I have achieved all of my athletic goals up to this point. I am proud of what I have achieved and the manner in which I executed daily to achieve my goals.
Of course, I would have liked to progress further in the sport of Bobsleigh and set my eyes on the 2022 Olympics. However, I must honestly say that I reached a personal limit where the cost-benefit evaluation is not likely to pay out, especially in achieving my long term life goals.
What those goals are? You'll have to wait and see!
II'd like to end this journey with many thanks to everyone who was a part of it and who made it possible! The list of all of these names could likely fill a whole book, however, I'd like to highlight a few people without whom I would not have been able to face this challenge head on:
Thank you Gary Ellington for getting me fast again and preparing me for bobsleigh
Thank you Wolfgang Unsoeld for nutritonal and strength training support
Thank you Karl Angerer for giving me the chance to try out
Thank you Philipp Zielasko for giving me the opportunity to compete
Thank you Martin Putze for training and preparing me for a World championship