Olympian Toni Wilhelm will line up for his third Olympic Games when he takes to the waters of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro later this year. The German windsurfer has recently qualified for Rio 2016 having previously represented his country at the Olympic Games Athens 2004 and London 2012.
Despite all his experience on the Olympic scene, Wilhelm says there’s nothing quite like competing in the Olympic Games and he feels just as excited and nervous about Rio as he did ahead of his first appearance in Athens 12 years ago.
“No matter how many times you go to the Olympic Games, it is the same excitement all over again. It’s something so special, and I feel so lucky to be part of it. My competition is from 8-15 August and I’m really hoping to get to the Opening Ceremony. It’s so emotional and exciting, I can’t explain it!”
When not training, Wilhelm has been focusing on broadening his career prospects so that when retirement does come he can hit the ground running with a solid education behind him.
“In 2010 I finished a master’s degree in Sports Science. But this was not enough for me; I wanted to push myself further. I really wanted to be more specialised in sport.”
Following London 2012, where Wilhelm finished 4th in the RS:X classification, he applied for and was granted the 2013 AISTS Athlete Scholarship and enrolled in the Master in Sport Administration (MSA) through the International Academy for Sports Science and Technology (AISTS) in Lausanne.
Wilhelm credits the AISTS Athlete Scholarship and the MSA for giving him a strong grounding in all aspects of international sport administration and considers the qualification to be a vital step in his career progression as he looks beyond competitive sport.
“I wanted to specialise in sports marketing while also learning more about the broader sports industry and through the Master in Sport Administration you get insight into a range of things such as sports marketing, law, medicine and technology. To be a good sports leader it’s essential to have a broad approach, you need to know more than just the sport you are in.
“The other benefit was being part of a class with 41 people from around the world. When you study in your own country, you don’t have access to courses with such an international flavour and inter-cultural views. Sport is international and being able to build up a network of global connections through this programme was so important for me.”
As the only German windsurfer qualified for Rio 2016, his future career is currently taking a back seat as his training ramps up. Wilhelm’s sights are now firmly set on the next Olympic Games and his goal of going one better than London with a podium finish in Rio.