‘Live your dreams, go your own way, and not letting anything get in the way of that.’ Heike Drechsler – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 111

Heike Drechsler, a 2-time Olympic champion, 3-time world champion, a former world record holder, International Hall of Famer, nominated as athlete of the 20th century and the best long jumper in history outlined how she suffers to this day from the Olympic boycott 1984, the differences between competing for East Germany vs a re-united Germany, why er first Olympic title was in her ‘Fighting Games’ and her second Olympic title was in her ‘Joy Games’, her ambition to always win, the jump of her life and her transition out of the sport.

Furthermore, we discuss

Christian: Today, it’s my utmost honor to be joined by Heike Drechsler. Heike is a 2-time Olympic champion, 3-time World champion, 2-time World Indoor champion, a former world record holder in the long jump and 200-meter sprint. She’s a Hall of Famer by the International Athletics Association, she has been nominated as the athlete of the 20th century, and is considered to be the best long jumper of all time.

Welcome Heike!

Heike: Hello Christian!

[The original interview was in German, the text below is the translation of the original interview.]

When and how did her love for athletics begin

Christian: Heike, when and how did your love for athletics begin?

Heike: It all started at school, I was always an energetic child, and my mother had a hard time keeping up with me.

At school, I had a sports teacher who saw my talent very early, and she asked me if I would like to start doing athletics. At that time I have done a lot of different sports, but the decisive thing was that my friends were always there.

That’s what tipped me off that my best friend did athletics as well. I joined the club when I was 10 years old and my friend was already there.

So, I got into athletics thanks to my sports teacher and with the motivation of my best friend. That’s how it all started.

I got into athletics thanks to my sports teacher and with the motivation of my best friend.

Christian: And the rest is history. I started in 1998 to study sports and had therefore taken a practical entry test, athletics was also part of the practical test. In the long jump, I had to jump 3.75 meters to pass the test, which I painfully managed to. At what age did you jump 3.75 meters?

Heike: I think when I first started and I had my first contact with the long jump, that was in school sports and I think that’s when I caught my sports teacher’s eye.

I was very fast, but I was not yet above average that you could say, that I was a super talent. Back then others were even better than me at that time.

But to answer your question, when I was 10 years old, I jumped from such a distance, thanks to my long legs.

Perhaps without a certain jumping technique, just by running fast, that was the thing, if you hit the board right, you also have the possibility to fly far.

Her darkest moment

Christian: What was the darkest moment of your career?

Heike: When it comes to my sports career, it was in 1984 that we did not travel to the Los Angeles Olympics. I was in great shape and I jumped the world record that year.

At that time, all the Eastern bloc countries except Romania boycotted the Olympic Games. My strongest competitors, Anișoara Cușmir-Stanciu and Vali Ionescu, came from Romania, and they went to the 1984 Olympics, and we, unfortunately, we didn’t go. And this will haunt me forever.

At that moment, I said to myself, that I am still young, and I have the possibility to practice your sport longer and get more chances to compete.

But it was a bitter moment because I had beaten the Romanian in 1983 at the first World Championships in Helsinki and she actually became the Olympic champion in 1984, and that still haunts me to this day, I must say.

All the Eastern bloc countries except Romania boycotted the Olympic Games. My strongest competitor came from Romania, and they went to the 1984 Olympics, and she actually became the Olympic champion. That still haunts me to this day.

I think that’s always bad for athletes, it was a dark day because you’ve been working towards it for four years and that would have been my first Olympic Games. It was such a pity, that we couldn’t go.

How she was informed about the Olympic boycott in 1984

Christian: Yes I had written that down as a note too, so according to my research you made the national team in 1983 and in May 1984 the Olympic boycott was declared, how did you hear about it?

Heike: The political situation in the GDR was a bit different, people naturally accepted that, but inside there was already something brewing, we had female athletes in our club who quit for reasons of age because it was supposed to be the last major highlight.

We were first taught about the boycott by our officials and you had no other chance, you had to accept it as it was.

The political situation in the GDR was a bit different, you had to accept it as it was.

To keep us motivated, there were other competitions, which were then called “competitions of friendship”, that was a bit of a match for the Olympic Games and that was in the Soviet Union at the time.

Then in Prague the “Friendship Games” took place but you had to be very good that you had at least a similar situation as the Olympic Games, but you can’t compare that, it’s completely different.

Officials have tried to do kind of damage control. I think the GDR government itself did not want it this way, a complete boycott, it came from the Soviet Union and we had nothing to vote politically.

Her best moment       

Christian: What was the best moment of your career?

Heike: I have a few, one of the best moments was the first World Championships in Helsinki in 1983. Because it was unexpected, I was still very young, only 18 years, and going straight away to such a big world championship, was something special because the pressure at that time in the GDR team was quite high.

After all, they didn’t send anyone there who didn’t bring home any medals, then you had to stay at home, so this concept of performing was very high.

And I think I was proud of myself because at that time the Romanian jumper was still better than me. After all, she jumped the world record. And I beat her at this world championship at the age of 18 years.

That’s why the motivation was so high for the 1984 Olympics, I was really looking forward to it. And I think that was a decisive experience for me not being afraid of big opponents, and that gave me a boost in my whole development and that was one of the most beautiful moments.

I became World Champion in 1983, at the age of 18 years, that was a decisive experience for me not being afraid of big opponents. That’s why the motivation was so high for the 1984 Olympics,

Then Sydney Olympics 2000, was also one of the most memorable moments because that was the end of my career, It was so unexpected and then you stand there one last time on the top of the podium and enjoy all the emotions. and that all came up, the training wasn’t as easy, nothing went according to plan, I had a lot of injuries.

Therefore, it was unexpectedly wonderful and a real joy. That’s why I always talk about the 2000 Games, as those were “Joy Games” for me. Simply enjoying, enjoying the moment, because I knew that this might be the last moment for me to be able to experience it like this.

Christian: And I wrote that down for later, but it fits relatively well here: Someone like you doesn’t go to the Sydney Olympics with the idea of just participating, am I right?

Heike: No, so I’m a very competitive person, and when I enter a competition, I want to win.

Of course, you can also evaluate yourself, you always have the comparison to the world’s best. Where do the others stand, where do I stand?

And in the years when you’ve had injuries, that already throws you back and then you’re struggling, I have always tried, no matter what situation I am in, to make the most of it.

In Sydney 2000, I wanted to win for myself, that it turned out to be the big one, I just hoped and wished, but I would also have been happy with a medal.

The moment I compete, I give everything, and if I finish 2nd or 3rd, Or in Gothenburg 1995, for example, I went home without a medal, I was knocked out of the final.

Those are the moments when you have to reflect, that’s just the way it is, but you realize exactly: What am I capable of at that moment, have I fully exploited my potential? And I have always tried to do that in every competition, no matter how it ended up.

In Sydney 2000, I wanted to win for myself, I didn’t know, that it turned out to be the big one, I would also have been happy with a medal. It was meant to be.

But in Sydney, it was a special situation. I really mapped out the training day by day. I have put a checkmark on every training and evaluated my workload of the day. You have to practice with certain levels of intensity, you don’t know at a certain age how your body will react, but it worked out in the end, it was meant to be.

Check out a few Heike Drechsler highlights (I didn’t mention it in this interview, but Heike Drechsler also equaled the 200-meter world record, twice.).

Her jump of the century               

Christian: Your jump in Sestriere, 7.63 meters, I also read that was one of your best moments. However, marginally wind-assisted, 0.1 m/s above the allowed threshold. How much is 0.1m/s?

Heike: Sestriere is in Italy, and it’s known for fast cars. They’ve placed a Ferrari in the middle of the stadium, which you could win, for the world record. The only person who won such a car, Sergey Bubka, the pole vaulter.

I was in the shape of my life in 1992, setting a new German record, with the longest jump. Initially, the jump was measured at 0.01 m/s, then rounded up to 0.1 m/s.

An interesting fact, 0.01m/s has never been measured before. I think it was the Ferrari, the Italians didn’t want to lose the Ferrari. No woman has won the Ferrari in Italy before and with 0.01 m/s you can’t even blow out a candle, so it was minimal wind-assisted and it was a pity.

0.01m/s has never been measured before, with 0.01 m/s you can’t even blow out a candle, so it was minimal wind-assisted and it was a pity.

I think the Italians didn’t want to lose the Ferrari. No woman has won the Ferrari in Italy before.

Otherwise, it would have been an insane world record, if you put it that way with a height of 2000 meters if you do a sports badge, then you just have to go to an altitude of 2000m then you gain at least 10-15 cm.

So you can jump a long way if you hit everything if everything goes right. For me, that was the long jump of my life. It was a pity because I already noticed that it felt like I didn’t drop down, I was like sitting on a cloud, you can really feel it, the feeling of it was maybe a bit like Bob Beamon’s jump.

I think Bob Beamon could say the same about his jump, that was insane at the time too. And jumped in Mexico also at a height of 2000 meters. I think that was already something, the speed. If you are in good shape that you can also jump really far. Yes, that was my dream of flying. Sestriere, that was really something special.

I could hardly believe it, they used to have these scoreboards the first number popped up, a 7, okay, 7m, I could jump that easily that year, but then the 6 appeared, and then I thought “Oh my goodness, a 6!”

And then the 3 and then they told me, a little too much backwind. That was a real shame, that’s also one of my life experiences. I think the Italians didn’t want to give away this Ferrari, so the wind had to take over. And that’s why this record was gone with the wind.

Her advice to a younger Heike Drechsler      

Christian: If you could travel back in time, 10, 20, 30 years. What advice would you give to a younger Heike?

Heike: Just live your dreams. My dream was sports, going your own way, and not letting anything get in the way of that.

Just live your dreams, go your own way, and not letting anything get in the way of that.

I think that’s also important when you’re young, that you go out a lot, and experience a lot

together with other people. Travel was a bit limited for me in the GDR time, but we have traveled a lot for the competitions, but that has already given me an incredible amount, to get to know other countries and that in connection with sports.

Sport has also been a certain family for me, it still is today, and I think that’s very important, that you love what you do. And that you work on it and you’re focused, you work on your strengths and you work on your weaknesses.

You get to know yourself and therefore have the courage to tackle things and change them for yourself.

Christian: Yes, very cool.

The transition between competing for the German Democratic Republic and the reunited Germany

Christian: If we go back a little longer, 30 years, 40 years. Nowadays people can’t even imagine if you haven’t witnessed it. One country separated into two parts. There were animosities, tension, rivalries, etc. You competed for both countries. How was this transition between the time before 1989 to after 1989?

Heike: Before 1989 I was not yet a mother, I became a mother in 1989, exactly on the 1st of November 1989 my son was born and that were exciting times. On November 9, the Berlin Wall came down and it was a touching time for me. In 1988, the Olympic Games were held in Seoul and I needed a break to recover.

And that wasn’t easy in GDR times, because you were already inside the system. They didn’t dismiss you easily if you were a top performer in competitive sports. But I really needed a recovery year and that had to be justified.

So I had to make a real statement about why I wanted to get out of the sport. And the time had come, that’s how I felt, for a year’s time off after 1988. I did, of course, over this baby break when my son was born, but I would not have been able to get back to competitive sports under the circumstances of the GDR

I would have stopped because, I was a mother and I also wanted to be there for my son, I remember how it was in GDR times, we were in training camps a lot and the families were rather disregarded.

Under the circumstances of the GDR, I would have stopped my career, because I was a mother and I also wanted to be there for my son. I remember how it was in GDR times, the families were rather disregarded.

And that’s why it was a new beginning with the freedom to travel that came, new opportunities and then I thought about it very carefully “You’re only 24, why not start again?”

Why not start again after the maternity leave? I didn’t know whether I’d make it back to the top, how would it all be? I made the decision to start again, and I know it was very, very difficult.

After 4 weeks I thought I’d give up on the whole thing. But then I got used to training more and more again and, I realized that I enjoyed the sport and of course the training, the daily challenges I had so much fun.

Also, my performance improved and so in 1990 I was back and the conditions were now, that I could take my son with me to training camps and competitions. These are things that are normal for someone who was born with a certain amount of freedom, freedom to travel above all else, self-responsibility. It’s a bit difficult to understand, how it was different in the GDR system.

I was insanely happy when we organized our 1st training camp by ourselves. Our club had connections to various equipment suppliers who supported us at that time. They signed new deals in 1990 and built up trust with our club so that we could continue to do our sport.

And under these new conditions, it was fascinating to me, a chance to find my own way back into the sport and I think both decades before the ‘fall of the wall’ and after. the most important thing was the love for sports, which has always been that way and I loved the training, the discipline, the determination to compete, to know what you want, and to put it into action.

Before the ‘fall of the wall’ and after. the most important thing was the love for sports. I always loved the training, the discipline, the determination to compete, to know what you want, and to put it into action.

I then tried to create these circumstances, like they were for me before the ‘fall of the wall’. In training, nothing has changed, I continued to train well, and the personal responsibility for the planning.  So you were responsible for it yourself, I was still studying to become a teacher at the time, and I was also a mother, which was also a huge challenge, but it worked with the team that I put together.

The team, was always supportive, believed in me, developed trust in me, and we grew together as a team and I think only under these circumstances I was able to continue doing my sport.

Her friendship with Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Christian: I read you became friends with Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Was that before or after 1989?

Heike: We had incredible respect for each other and we experienced each other in competitions. She was always very open-minded towards me, kind and friendly. It wasn’t like US versus Eastern bloc or something. That was simply the respect for each other, for the achievements, mutual respect and that’s how the friendship started to develop.

We had incredible respect for each other, for the achievements, and that’s how the friendship started to develop.

Of course, my English wasn’t that advanced back then, we liked each other from the start and that has actually remained to this day, we are frequently in touch via emails, she also reacted in a very beautiful way when my trainer and father-in-law passed away.

These are just moments that were very emotional and this common ground in the sport, this friendship has become so strong, how she came across as a person and vice versa. We also had once a TV story together and that was really nice. That’s what sports are all about, real friendships are born.

Of course, in a competition, everyone wants to win, but in the end, you also celebrate together. And that’s how it should be. You’d probably have to open a retirement home for former athletes who have so many stories to tell. Those shaped us.

Christian: Yes, as Nelson Mandela said, “Sport unites or sport has the power to change the world”.

Heike: Absolutely!

Her success habits

Christian: What the habits that make you a successful athlete and person?

Heike: I think, the fighting spirit and determination, that you stay the course, sometimes even during difficult times, when you recover from an injury, you have to rebuild again, that you also have confidence in yourself, passion for the sport, the whole combination.

If I started something, I would finish it. And that’s how I’ve always planned it, so when I have a goal, I really work on it consistently. Not blindly, but looking beyond the horizon as part of a team.

I think that’s also important, that you don’t over-plan things. That you stay curious, try things out, so the passion, all the fighting, and discipline, not wanting to give up. Of course, when you get to a point where you have to give up because there’s no point in it anymore, it’s a different situation.

Passion, fighting spirit, discipline, and not wanting to give up.

Christian: Yes, and you brought it up earlier as well, but I wrote it down as a note: Is it the motivation and ambition in you after you became a mother that said “My story isn’t done yet”?

Heike: Yes, the whole situation, “What’s up next?” It wasn’t that easy, you had already achieved something in the GDR, and suddenly it was all worth nothing. You had to realign yourself, and there were obviously worries: “What will I get out of this completely different system? Where is my place, and where am I?”

The Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games were ‘Fighting Games’ for me. I really wanted to win, I wanted to show it to the whole world.

That’s why the fighting spirit emerged especially at this time. I will prove it to all of you, of course to myself as well, and I did have responsibilities with a young son. I also wanted to finish my studies and graduate and those were my most difficult years also from learning, from understanding, what was the GDR in itself, how does the new system work?

The Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, those Games were ‘Fighting Games’ for me. I really wanted to win, I wanted to show the whole world: I am a huge talent and I will have my place here. Thank Goodness it worked, it could have backfired.

How to prepare for important moments

Christian: How do you prepare for important moments?

Heike: If you have a goal, then you have a certain schedule, you plan out the whole year. Whether that’s a jump or a sprint, you work on it every day, and right before the competitions come I start to fall into tunnel vision.

Because this is a very intense phase, the training, staying healthy. Then I subordinate everything to that one objective. Because when the competition starts, I’m actually in the competition, not somewhere else.

I subordinate everything to that one objective.

When I’m competing with other athletes, I hardly have any real interaction. Then I am really in it for me, for this task, for the moment, afterward, I am more relaxed again. But then I notice, when the competition starts, that I have been moving in a tunnel for about 3-4 days.

Focusing on the essentials, it’s like taking an exam, you finally want to get it done. The tension builds up and you feel an incredible rush, and when the day of the competition comes you don’t want to be disturbed, and I don’t let myself be disturbed in the process, no matter what, you are ready to give everything for this one moment.

How to prepare for a jump

Christian: Yes, and then at the Olympics. You wait for your turn and then it’s your time, you step onto the track. How do you prepare yourself then? Because at this moment you have to bring out the best performance.

Heike: These are routines and processes that have already been tried 1000 times. You enter the stadium, the first thing you do is to measure your run-up, it has to be prepared. Then you check your schedule, when is my turn, when do I have to warm up in time. You’re usually already warmed up in a certain way, but the other question is when do I need to warm up so that I can have 100% of this energy at the run-up?

I always try to calm myself down by breathing. And when I have time and everything is prepared, I try to find a quiet corner where no one will disturb me.

I always try to calm myself down by breathing, and I try to find a quiet corner where no one will disturb me.

You also see a lot of other athletes with a towel over their head, just being calm with themselves. Go through processes again and then at the moment when it mattered, you have to pump up the energy and get fit and then you recall what you’ve been training for all this time. That’s almost an automatism that you have.

You don’t think about it, you put full power, full speed, full energy into the moment, everything you have trained, I recalled at that moment. This is only the mental preparation, the external conditions are coming on top.

You see and check, “Do I have a headwind?”, “Do I have a tailwind?”, “Do I still have to adjust my run-up at that moment?” But other than that, it’s just tunnel vision. You also don’t hear anything from the outside, how full the stadium is or how people react.

You’re really only focused on that one run-up and that one jump, that you get it right.

How to overcome setbacks

Christian: How do you overcome setbacks?

Heike: Of course, you get annoyed. I dropped out of the finals for the first time in 1995. Before that, it was always like “If Drechsler is in the competition, she’ll be fine.” I always went with the attitude to win – I didn’t want anything else.

I’ve never dropped out of a competition before, and then it happened for the first time. I was shocked at first. First of all very sad, what happened just now?

I always went with the attitude to win – I didn’t want anything else. I’ve never dropped out of a competition before, and then it happened for the first time. I was shocked.

I couldn’t believe it at all. I couldn’t cry, I was almost like paralyzed the moment it happened.

And that took a day or two before I found myself again. And the first conversation was with my coach who asked what happened? And then I analyzed, what went wrong? Why did it go wrong?

And we did a deep analysis and then also found the solution to why it happened. And it always took a day or two, it always started with sadness, but then I independently drew a lot of energy for myself from what happened. And worked on me and tried for myself to find solution approaches, which I later included in my training, to continue training with even more energy again.

Actually, I was more the type of person that when something didn’t work out, after three days I had more energy than ever! That was also important for me. In order to not taking it for granted that I was a great talent or something.

That you have to work hard for things as well and that motivation to do so thankfully came back very quickly after two or three days. But it’s probably also normal, you also have to digest it first. And it’s also quite normal that you’re not happy about it. You don’t leave the track voluntarily if you don’t have to.

Christian: And then there is no turning back.

Heike: No turning back.

Her role model

Christian: Who is your role model? In a previous conversation, you told me that you learned a lot from older athletes.

Heike: I was at a sports school, we always had our heroes pretty close to us, even at the sports facilities. I’m from Jena and back then when I came to the sports school, it was Rolf Beilschmidt, a high jumper, we all thought he was kind of cool, maybe because he was handsome.

We were in puberty, but we were also amazed at how his training looked like, we observed the competitions he did, that was also a bit of my idol in the early days.

Later on, it was Carl Lewis from the technical side, how he long jumped, how he sprinted, how he could combine sprinting and jumping. He was incredibly accurate in his run-up, I always had my problems with run-ups, I spent many hours watching his jumps, it still fascinates me to this day.

I saw that long jump world record in 1991 when Lewis competing against Mike Powell in Tokyo. That was gigantic, they flew over the pit and the technique was like, “I want to jump like that, to hit the board like them.” That was my technical role model.

A typical training day in the life of the best long jumper of all times

Christian: How did a typical training day look like?

Heike: I had rather untypical training days, they were always different because I was a heptathlete. I would describe a training day like that: We always had technical training two times a week, that means Tuesday and Thursday were always long jumps, sprint program, those were always very intensive sessions.

Monday and the other days, we did shot put, javelin, and we also played soccer. It always depended on which phase you were in. The more relaxed phases were the competition phases because we tapered and had training breaks. That was always a bit more relaxed.

Then when we started training after the vacation, those were the phases where we had more intensive training. We did a lot of endurance training, I didn’t really like that, circuit training, I didn’t like that either, and we played soccer. There were other training buddies there, we did a lot in the community, it made everything a little bit easier, everything on endurance to get a good foundation, for the real intense training.

It was a very varied training, mostly I was happy when there were training sessions on the program, such as jump because you could measure yourself against others when you sprinted, even if it was a maximum sprint at certain stages.

I remember we were in Lanzarote, there was the British team, there was Linford Christie, we had programs where we did 150-meter runs. I remember against Linford, I always got a 50-60m head start and he had to work really hard to make sure I didn’t catch him in the last few meters, so we all trained together a little bit and that was always a lot of fun for me to compete.

Shot put, throwing backward with a 4kg medicine ball, we always challenged each other there. The training was always somehow a competition for me, I liked measuring myself against others. When it comes to endurance, it was more keeping up with the others, not chasing after them.

The training was always somehow a competition for me, I liked measuring myself against others.

Endurance wasn’t necessarily my favorite discipline, but you grow with the tasks.

Christian: Sprinters are like that, they don’t like endurance training.

Heike: Yes. To answer your question, every day looked different from the other day. There was no one real typical day.

What makes a good coach

Christian: I saw an interview of you with Ato Boldon, there you said the secret to a long career is a good coach. What makes a good coach?

Heike: In the team itself, the coach is the person of trust. The coach also brings professional knowledge, I mean it has to fit. He should be motivating, but he should also have in mind how an athlete acts.

I’m a person, when I get annoyed at something in training that doesn’t work out, I work more and I work harder, so the coach can see when he has to slow me down and when he has to motivate me.

This balance has to be right. I think that he knows me, how I do the training, and also knows my personality. But also how I process the training, what is necessary and what is not necessary for the training, with how much intensity.

It is a mutual cooperation, and you need a lot of trust, it cannot work without trust. Also listening, intervening, discussing in harmony even when things aren’t going well. I know I definitely wouldn’t have been an Olympic champion in 2000 if I hadn’t had the confidence and trust in my coach.

It is a mutual cooperation, and you need a lot of trust, it cannot work without trust. I definitely wouldn’t have been an Olympic champion in 2000 if I hadn’t had the confidence and trust in my coach.

We have gone to new ways in my training. So I had to trust him, I couldn’t train like a twenty-year-old at the age I was then. I had so many limitations, so for example, we did water training, I didn’t like that so much, but at that moment it was the right thing to do.

I had to deal with the Achilles tendon and that’s where it’s so important to know what’s going to get me to reach my goal. That’s a basis of trust, that feeling that the coach is not overstepping the mark, that he knows the athlete and it’s the connection between athlete and coach to complete that.

Also check out the interview with Heike Drechsler and Ato Boldon,

Did she ever contemplate going into coaching

Christian: Have you never considered going into coaching yourself and if so, why not?

Heike: I’m still thinking about that, but professionally, I’m working for preventive services, for the health insurance company called Barma. I do a lot of projects for my employer and if you are a coach, you have to be on board as well and be there continuously for the athlete.

And unfortunately, the way I have functioned over the last few years, I have not been able to realize that. But you should never say never, I really enjoy passing on my knowledge to younger people and maybe someday I’ll be a bit more settled, then I’ll never say never, that maybe that could also be a perspective.

I do a lot of projects for my employer and if you are a coach, you have to be there continuously for the athlete. And unfortunately, the way I have functioned over the last few years, I have not been able to realize that.

I am always open, anyone can of course come to me if they need help, If they want to learn about technique or anything, I’m always happy to share my experience.

Christian: I should have known that back in 1998 when I was preparing for my test in university.

Heike: Right, oh okay.

Christian: But I made it in the end.

Heike: That’s already something, when you don’t get stuck while running hurdles, in a 3 rhythm.

Christian: We had 100 meters, long jump, high jump, shot put, and 800 meters.

Heike: I remember when I was in Cologne, we had a seminar at the sports university and we saw the sport science students. they had to take that test, they had to run hurdles and I thought “Oh my Goodness”.

The first hurdle was still okay, the second as well, but at the third, they were already crawling under the hurdle. They just couldn’t run over that hurdle, I could no longer watch it.

Christian: I was probably one of them.

What’s going on in the life of Heike Drechsler at the moment

Christian: What’s happening in Heike Drechsler’s life right now? What are you doing?

Heike: Well with Covid or without Covid? So I’m usually a lot on the road to different companies. Right now, a lot of web seminars on topics, such as health, and health insurance in companies.

I mix a lot of my own athletic experience into it, for example, topics on motivation, and tips on how to bring exercises into your everyday life. I have also written a book “Get fit!” together with a publisher. And also a book about movement with children, everything around health, exercise, relaxation, nutrition, these are topics I am dealing with.

Running seminars, back, and back-health courses, but I’m still very active myself, always nice when you can do something together too when you create the experience and when you can then inspire others with your great moments, that sport is something quite beautiful.

Christian: Very nice.

Does she still set goals

Christian: For someone who has always been ambitious, do you still have goals?

Heike: Yes, so for me it’s always important to have goals, I need this for my motivation. And I know in September, I hope it takes place, are running events, there is also the company run taking place in Aachen. And I don’t only want to participate.

During my training, I always look at my running time, they are no longer top times, everything is within a healthy range. Personally, I would like to run 5km in at least 25 minutes.

Doesn’t sound very fast, but that’s already my goal, including a bit of training. Or 10km at least in a little under an hour, that’s already fine for me. I just need that for myself. If I know I have the run in September, then I’ll train for it.

This is with many things, I am planning, incredibly difficult of motivation, to learn a new language: Finnish. My husband is Finnish and sure we speak English with each other, he knows German too, but it’s still a challenge.

I know that I really have to work on it every day, it’s not easy, I am planning to learn at least five to six new words every day. I don’t always succeed, because I have a goal of at least mastering the basics of the language until I can have at least a simple conversation once I will be in Finland. It’s a long, long way, it’s a bit like the Olympics for me.

In four years I would like to understand my husband when he speaks Finnish.

Her interview nomination

Christian: Would you like to nominate someone for an interview?

Heike: Well, maybe Jacky Joyner-Kersee.

Christian: That would be cool.

Heike: Yes, that’s very cool. Or Carl Lewis, I’d also be interested to know what he’s up to. Of course, you also read on the internet how he’s doing. I know that Mike Powell is a coach too.

Yeah, so just knowing how the athletes of my generation who were superstars back then are doing now.

Christian: The last time we spoke, I said I didn’t have many interviews with track and field athletes, but this week I talked to Donovan Bailey, which was also very cool.

Heike: It’s also very cool, yes. I like him a lot, too.

Christian: Very cool guy.

Heike: He’s also a businessman, he’s doing it quite well. I’m happy when other athletes from my generation are doing well, health-wise. I know that Greg Foster had health problems and that he recently had a heart transplant.

I don’t know how he is doing now, I hope he is doing well. It had just happened during these Covid times, my husband and he are still in good contact with each other.

We also asked if he needed help, it also costs an incredible amount of money in the US. They also had fundraising, but he’s over the worst, I think. Of course, he has to be careful because of the whole Covid situation now.

That’s why he could be an interesting interview partner to know how he’s doing after this difficult operation. I’d be glad if he’s doing well.

Where can you find Heike Drechsler

Christian: Where can people learn more about you? Where can people find you?

Heike: On Facebook, we also have a fan page, we want to raise a bit of money for the Stiftung Deutsche Sporthilfe, I provide greetings there.

It costs a little bit of money, and the money goes straight to the Sporthilfe to support young athletes.

But I will start being on Instagram one day, that’s still a bit new to me, but on Facebook, you can find me there.

Christian: And you have a website, right?

Heike: Yes, we have restructured my website at the moment. If you go to my Facebook page, you will automatically go to my website. www.heikedrechsler.com

Heike Drechsler’s social profiles

Facebook Profile

Facebook page


Christian: Great! Heike, thank you so much for your time.

Heike: You’re welcome!