Get to know the Athlete Role Models: Felix Gottwald
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a few weeks back a list of 15 Athlete Role Models (ARMs) who will support the young athletes going to the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games from 12 to 21 February 2016 in Lillehammer, Norway. They are presented individually through a short interview. Today: Felix Gottwald.
How/why did you start your sport?
Out of a very natural, childlike joy of movement. And in contrast to many other people, the childlike joy and enthusiasm for sporting activities have remained until today. Right from the beginning I was fascinated about the contrasts of the Nordic combined. The process of finding and keeping balance, at least halfway, of two very different sports. The Nordic combined is indeed a metaphor for life: In this sport you always want to unite opposites. Balance is of course not a state - it remains a process. Life means to lose balance and to find a way back into it. This is something you can train.
What achievements are you most proud of in your sporting career?
Two things: My strong inner drive - but also the commitment of my parents regarding my wish. I was 13 when I made the decision not to take over my parents’ car business but to go for the experiment of a career in professional sports. My first coach told my parents that I didn’t have what it would take to be a top athlete. My inner conviction of knowing what I can do and the trust my parents then placed in me encourage me to this day.
What achievements are you most proud of outside your sporting career?
One question, two names: Hannah (21 months) and Teresa (4 months) are the greatest aspect of my life. But being a father is not an achievement but much more a gift. Children show you the sense of life in all facets. I have great respect for the commitments of mothers, the special devotion. And I am pleased to learn from our children.
What made you want to participate in the Youth Olympic Games?
Sport, its values and the enthusiasm: This is what really matters at the Olympics. To be present when these young people make their dream come true. With my participation, I want to encourage them in their enthusiasm. I understood my own path to the Olympic Games as a daily challenge. I want to pass this on. To be an Olympic athlete is not an event but an attitude, a way of life. It is best to take it with the immediate, pure joy of movement with which we all started sports as children.
What do you like most about the concept of the Youth Olympic Games?
So many young athletes are part of a mission! They make their dreams come true - this is the magical fascination and it shows the good power of sports! Sports stand for tolerance, respect and appreciation. “Sports have the power to change the world.” Nelson Mandela’s famous sentence has timeless relevance. Sports are a metaphor for basic human values. At the Youth Olympic Games, we all have the opportunity to exemplify them and to make them comprehensible. And this is an important matter in our time.
What are you looking forward to the most in Lillehammer 2016?
After five Olympic Games as an active athlete, I am now allowed to take time for exchanging and sharing with the young athletes. I am looking forward to their questions and to learning from each other. No matter whether you are involved as an athlete, a coach or a sports enthusiast - the main thing is to be involved with all your heart! Then these YOG will be a celebration of sports for everyone!
What’s next for you in your career?
I see myself as a mediator of what I call “the most valuable essence of sport”, of the principles that give professional sport its strong attraction because they are the success principles of life. The trick is to find a language and didactics to show how people can integrate these principles into their daily lives. Because it is not the main focus to talk about them, it always matters to actually do something. We train this inner attitude in my lectures, seminars and workshops. We can all be athletes of life! My personal training effort for this matter might even be higher than in professional sports - to deal with questions of being human and developing potential is the most exciting thing I can imagine as a profession. And, as in sport, it is never finished and done…
What are your hobbies?
I still like to do sport in nature. Biking, hiking, skiing, etc. No longer as fast as possible, but with as much pleasure as possible.
Anything else you want to add?
I am looking forward to the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer in February 2016 and to coming back to the place where my Olympic story started, moderately and impressively at the same time!