INTERVIEW | 09/30/2022

Decathlete Christian Schenk on Pain and Inclusion

5 Questions - 5 Answers
Uschi Horner

He has doped and is mentally ill. And he talks about it. By doing that, the former decathlete Christian Schenk dares more than many other top athletes, who are often stuck in a system of self-deception and pressure to perform. This deserves respect in our opinion. That's why we talked to the Olympic champion. In our series "5 Questions" the 57-year-old also reveals why inclusion is his new topic of choice.

1. The stage is yours: What are you most proud of, and which of your defeats was the worst?

I am proud of my two sons. In addition, at the age of 23 I managed to fulfill 100 percent of one wish (winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, editor's note).

My worst defeat was in Götzis, when a doctor injected my arm numb during the qualification for the 1992 Olympic Games. That meant my entire preparation was for nothing, because I wanted to win another medal. But that was thwarted by a wrong injection.

2. How do joy and professional sports actually go together for you?

For me, the joy has always been in the foreground. So when someone tells me that professional sports are a psychological burden, I think the approach is wrong. Of course, I say in my book that pain and sport are like Siamese twins for me. We high-performance athletes are all masochists. And of course, in individual sports, you have to constantly push the limits. But I loved it, also because I was successful. And with us decathletes, the advantage is that we don't just learn one discipline, there are ten. That was a gift for me.

3. You had a body fat value of four percent for many years - what culinary luxury do you allow yourself now?

I love Skyr - I treat myself to it every day. That is luxury for me.

4. The topic of inclusion: In your opinion, does this receive too little attention in the sports world?

In sports, we have come a long way, at least at the top level. Some athletes have managed to achieve a certain media presence through their great performances.

With my experience as a former state coach in para athletics in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, I have to say that there is a huge need to catch up at club level. This is due to the lack of training for para-trainers and the lack of integration of the topic of inclusion in the training of trainers, starting with the C license. Furthermore, there are uncertainties and fears in the clubs, among the coaches and trainers to look after untrained para-athletes. Therefore, there is a lack of offers. I have also noticed that parents did not even know that there were opportunities for their children to participate if they had a medical condition. Therefore, public relations work and the provision of offers are existential. This requires will and empathy.

In summary, I would like to say that sport is a driver of inclusion in Germany. I am a friend of the interdisciplinary. I see solutions in festivals, joint events and workshops. The inclusion of para athletics, for example, in the curricula of coach training is imperative.

5. Hand over the baton: What would you like to pass on to future generations not yet born?

Listen to the life stories of your parents or others. Listen to how you can be successful. That is the maxim for me: learn from the experienced.

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Uschi Horner