If the Olympic Village didn't already offer good prospects because of its excellent location, one could also come to the conclusion that the German field hockey players have settled in quite well for the coming weeks.
The huge buildings in Tokyo Bay, one of which is dominated by black and red flags on the balconies, do not necessarily promise individuality and seclusion. But to soak up at least the last bit of five-ring flair between serious preparation for the competitions and strict Corona protections like the morning spit tests, the players take advantage of small bike trips within the village to the waterfront. "In the meantime, the anticipation is there," says Benedikt Furk.
The field hockey player from Uhlenhorst Mulheim, like the other German Olympia-Participants also often heard sayings such as: "Olympics must be canceled" or "The worries fly with you to Tokyo" and "In a pandemic, Olympics is irresponsible".
There are justified concerns for the Summer Games, the first villagers are infected – why the event in Tokyo from the point of view of some athletes, however, should be compellingly held under consideration of all conditions, shows the example of Benedikt Furk. Coming late to participate, peaking only once in a career and being a medal contender – the 32-year-old combines both approaches. The Olympics in Tokyo are not only a great opportunity for him.
The big Olympic chance for field hockey player Benedikt Furk
175 international games, two European Championship titles, World Championship participations – but never the Olympics. Furk is no flash in the pan for German field hockey. But whenever it came to the climax every four years, the defender's clubs were in the corner at home.
In 2012 in London, Germany won gold with an incredible team. "I was still young and new at that time," says Furk. Four years later in Rio, when Germany's most successful team sport won bronze, he was physically unwell after an injury. One can despair after two so narrowly missed participations – or take it like the Mulheimer.
"I'm a guy who doesn't dwell on it that long. Maybe that was a protective reaction, but it gave me a good way to deal with it," says Furk. "It's all the nicer to have grabbed it now at the last chance." Accordingly, with the development of the pandemic, there were also worries that the postponement of the Games could have led to cancellation: "I already had that thought," says Furk, "the postponement in March 2020 was already a real neck-snap. Because I really wanted to experience the Olympics again myself. For us there is nothing bigger than the Olympics."
The fear that Tokyo will become a super-spreader, he has not. The IOC's requirements are very strict, "but if all athletes adhere to them, it should be relatively unproblematic."
Sophia Popov: "The Olympic Games are a big deal for me"
Personal motives should never take precedence over the common good – all German Olympians in Tokyo are aware of this. And yet, in Japan, life dreams of competitive athletes are fulfilled, even family stories experience new turns. As in the case of Sophia Popov: The golfer, 2020 British Open winner and the German number one, was born in the USA and comes from a family that loves swimming.
"The Olympics are a big deal for me," the 28-year-old tells Golfpost, "we're a bit fanatical about it."Mother Claudia, an American, missed the 1980 Moscow Games because of the sports policy boycott, and brother Moritz narrowly failed to compete in the pool in 2012 for sporting reasons. For Popov, being "a part of the Olympics" is now tremendous luck.
While Martin Kaymer felt the Summer Games starting on Friday as a personal double bogey because of the restrictions on site and the lack of Olympic spirit, Sophia Popov, number 24 in the world rankings, is looking forward to Tokyo: "It's the coolest thing. For me, this is something very, very special."
Max Kruse: "I don't understand at all how you can't be up for the Olympics"
Sometimes the Olympic experience can come completely unexpectedly. "I've never been one to say the Olympics is my ultimate goal," says basketball player Niels Giffey (30) from German champion Alba Berlin. 'This was almost out of reach'." At the last minute, the long guys still secured the plane ticket for Japan. At the age of 33, Max Kruse is also happy to take the strain: the Union Berlin soccer player is one of three older players in the squad of only 18 players of national coach Stefan Kuntz.
"I don't understand at all how you can't be up for the Olympics," Kruse says six years after the last of his 14 senior appearances at the many Olympics-Cancellations in soccer, "this is a tournament that you can probably take once in a lifetime."Already on Thursday the German team starts with the rematch of the Rio final against Brazil.Kruse: 'We're going there to get the gold medal – it's worth more than any money'."