The Olympic Review continues its countdown to the 2012 Olympic Games in London by speaking to stars. Germany’s reigning Olympic champion Lena Schöneborn is keen to compete in an Olympic Games closer to home and is anticipating a fantastic atmosphere in London.
How are you preparing for London 2012?
There is nothing to do other than train, train, sleep and eat. There is always something else to do at home but it’s easier when we are away at training camps. We have two more camps planned before 2012, including one at altitude.
What does your average training day consist of?
We train around five hours a day – mostly running and swimming to stay in shape. You need experience for the technical disciplines, but that has been gained over the years so we do not spend much time on that during the week. In autumn we usually have a four-day riding camp, but most weeks we ride perhaps twice. There are a lot of people to fence with in camp so we are making the most of it.
Do you enjoy the variation in modern pentathlon?
Definitely. I used to compete in swimming, so was training in the pool every day, but now I need to train for five different disciplines. I still get time in the pool but training on the road, riding, fencing and shooting keeps me on my toes.
How did you start competing in modern pentathlon?
The local pool that I trained at closed, so the whole swimming team moved to Bonn. That pool was part of a modern pentathlon club and we were allowed to train as long as we gave the other disciplines a try. I really enjoyed it and after a year I decided that I would like to compete in the multi-discipline event.
Which discipline did you find the most difficult to master?
That might be shooting. I used to think that after doing sport you had to be exhausted, but shooting is different. It was exciting to learn in different ways but it was definitely the discipline I found the least natural.
Have you spent much time in London?
We competed in London in the World Cup final this year and the World Championships in 2009, but I have not spent much time there. The facilities at Greenwich Park are great and I enjoyed a good run there for the test event. I now know what is coming and how best to prepare.
Did you find the iconic venue inspirational?
London is a great city and the facilities will be excellent, but for me what matters most is the atmosphere at the events. I think the British crowd will be amazing.
And do you look forward to the atmosphere in the Athletes’ Village?
Definitely. This will be my second time competing in an Olympic event so I know what to expect. In Beijing, I sometimes took four hours to have lunch because I was so excited to speak with people. I will be a little more relaxed this time, but it will still be great to stay in one place with all these amazing athletes.
Who will be the biggest threat to you winning another gold medal?
The best thing about modern pentathlon is that you never know who will win. There are at least 15-20 athletes who are at the same level. On a good day, anyone can make the podium. This season, the British team are looking strong –they will be dangerous with their home crowd behind them.
Was winning gold in Beijing the proudest moment in your career?
Absolutely. Crossing the finish line, I was just relieved. I started the run in first place, which I am not used to. It was exhausting to be out in front and not chasing. Then I had a lot of celebrating to do and lots of media commitments. I don’t think I slept for three days! It sank in when I got home the week after.
Do you use music to help motivate you?
We listen to music when we are training, doing weights or working at home. Then I have my favourite songs for competition – “Eye of the Tiger” gets me in the zone. I like to relax before or after an event by listening to Amy Macdonald or James Blunt.