Christian: In this interview, I am pleased to interview track cyclist Matthijs Büchli, who won the silver medal in the Keirin event at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Matthijs and I have been training for probably five to six years together.
Matthijs: A long time.
Christian: Welcome Matthijs.
Matthijs darkest moment
Christian: As an athlete what has been your darkest moment?
Matthijs: I think it was five months before the 2016 Olympics when I got a strange knee injury and nobody knew what it was.
I missed the first two training camps heading up to the Rio Olympics and I missed the endurance part of the training.
I was in doubt and was wondering should I start over with endurance, but we actually skipped endurance training and I joined in with the guys and we started with the more intense training.
I still made it to Rio, which was really cool of course.
Christian: How did you recover from the moment?
Matthijs: I had to rest in a period when I didn’t want to rest, so on the one side I had to rest my body rest, which was really hard mentally because that’s the moment you don’t want to rest.
But I think the most important thing is just to keep the faith that you can recover and can still do it in another way than what should be the perfect way.
The most important thing is just to keep faith that you can recover and can still do it in another way than what should be the perfect way.
Matthijs best moment
Christian: What was your best moment?
Matthijs: The best moment was a few months later. I qualified for Rio. I made the team at the test event and I went to Rio in good shape and my knee was fine.
I won the silver medal in the Keirin event, which is a sprint event on the track. That day was like a good flow, I was second in the first heats and also second in the second heats, and in the finals, I got second place.
That was one day where everything came together; that was for sure the best moment of my career.
On that one day everything came together.
Christian: I still remember that, sitting in front of the television and seeing you getting that medal, that was really cool. What did you learn from that moment? Obviously, it has influenced your life, you’re considered one of the best track cyclists now because you have the proven results. What else has it influenced your life?
Matthijs: I think on one-hand it eases the mind. You now have that life achievement that you fought for your whole life, and you have it at your first Olympics. It puts my mind at ease that I have this Olympic medal.
Winning an Olympic medal eases the mind. You now have that life achievement that you fought for your whole life.
And it also gives you confidence because you know you can do it and you know your best is yet to come.
It gives you a lot of peace of mind for the next four years.
And also, you know you can do better, because I know I was not at my best in Rio and I got silver. And now they are saying maybe I can get the gold next time.
So, that’s a really nice position to go into the next Olympics. Now you can really go for gold instead of a just medal and set the bars higher.
Matthijs advise to his younger self
Christian: If you could go back in time 10 or 15 years ago, what advice would you give your younger self from all the lessons you have learned?
Matthijs: That’s a good one. Maybe it would be that it is okay to ask a lot of people for advice. I tend to like to find my own way, but it’s also good to ask people, “What do you think about this?”
And everybody has a different view, so in my opinion, it’s nice to hear a lot of opinions and hear what everybody thinks.
And one thing I also learned over the years that maybe I could have told myself earlier is that there are so many ways that lead to what you want. So, for example, if the “perfect way” doesn’t work there are still so many ways you can achieve what you want.
Don’t lose faith if you have some breakdown or encounter bad things, you can still work around that. And you don’t know what good can come out of bad encounters, so it is still possible to succeed.
Don’t lose faith if you have some breakdown or encounter bad things, you can still work around that and it is still possible to succeed.
Matthijs success habits
Christian: What do you think are the habits that make you a successful athlete or a successful person?
Matthijs: I think what is most important is faith in yourself, having confidence; maybe I even had too much confidence.
When I was young I always felt like, “I think I can do that, I can maybe get gold. I think I can get an Olympic medal.” I felt that way even before I knew I had the talent.
Basically, I always had some confidence in myself that I could do these things because if someone else can do it, why can’t I? I always believed I could. I think it’s really important to have confidence in yourself no matter what.
The other thing I think is important is that you should keep going when you have struggles or bad things like injuries or crashes. There are bad moments and good moments and sometimes you lose so much more than you win. You crash many times and you get injured and you have setbacks, but you keep going.
I think everyone has that and you have to overcome the struggles and just continue. I think I’m good at continuing in good faith if it goes bad I think.
What is most important is to have faith in yourself, having confidence in yourself no matter what happens, so that you can overcome the struggles and just continue.
Christian: Also, when I look back at your career at the times we worked together there were so many moments when your back didn’t hold up or something like that.
But you always came back, you always started over again or continued with what you were doing.
Matthijs: Yes. And sometimes you think, “Oh, this is really bad, I cannot ride for three weeks.” But then still you always somehow recover faster than you think, you are back at your level faster than you think, so that’s one thing I noticed.
Matthijs morning routine
Christian: Do you have a morning routine or any routine that you’re using to bring yourself in the best shape for the day?
Matthijs: It depends really on the season’s planning. If I have a training week where I have to train but it’s not really important, then I don’t really have routines, it can be either way.
But, for example, if I have a training camp and a really hard three-week block, I want to do everything right.
A normal routine for me would be to get up, take a shower, then I have breakfast with everything like protein, carbohydrates, slow ones, fast ones, everything. Then I go and do some stretching and warm up for the gym, I do the gym training and then cool down a little bit with core stability, go back to the hotel, have lunch then go to bed and have some bed rest. And then I go to training again and then have dinner and do some stretching at the end of the day, and then I go to sleep.
Christian: That’s very regimented.
Matthijs: Yes. That’s the routine of the day, the whole day actually, not only the morning routine. My morning routine will be to have some breakfast, shower and do some stretching.
How to prepare for important moments
Christian: How do you prepare yourself for important moments, especially competitions?
Matthijs: Well, of course, preparation is key, so the preparation starts months before the competition. I try to see the big picture of the whole planning – where I can do easy training and where I have to really focus.
I choose my moments to really get all out of it and get some more relaxation; it’s all about balance. Keep a good balance in the lead-up to your big race and then it should all come together.
Preparation is key. The preparation starts months before the competition and I try to see the big picture of the whole planning.
Christian: I remember that moment in Rio, the first heat of the final. I think you were the second position and then the race was stopped and had to start again. I will put that video on the website. What was going through your head at that time?
Matthijs: It was really strange. Olympics probably are always different than other races, so maybe that’s why it was so strange. I never experienced that before where they stopped a race two or three times and you have to restart.
But what I do remember is actually there was nothing in my head at all. People say, “Why didn’t you freak out?” or “You seemed so calm.”
I actually had no thoughts at all. My only thought was, “Okay, we go again later.” And then I rode some laps on the infield, and there was actually nothing going through my head.
There was nothing in my head at all. The Olympics are probably always different than other races, so maybe that’s why it was so strange. I never experienced before, that they stopped a race two or three times and you have to restart.
Christian: Why do you think that was?
Matthijs: I think we really learn to see what is important and don’t put energy in things that are unimportant.
So, in the race when you have to start again, of course, it’s not nice. But you lose energy whining about it, so you shouldn’t do that.
I think it’s more that I don’t want to focus on the bad things and so I just keep a clear head and go again; I accept the situation.
Learn to see what is important and don’t put energy in things that are unimportant.
Christian: And the result was good?
Matthijs: It was good, yes.
How Matthijs overcomes setbacks
Christian: How do you overcome setbacks, especially if it doesn’t go your way?
Matthijs: As I said before, I feel it’s important to know that there are many ways that lead to Rome or many ways that lead to victory. You want to do it the perfect way, but maybe it’s impossible to do it the perfect way.
You will always have setbacks. It’s good to know you can work around it, and there are many other ways to get there.
You will always have setbacks, and it’s good to know that you can work around it.
Matthijs role model
Christian: Who is your role model, and why?
Matthijs: I never really had a role model or hero in my own sport. I do see a lot of things I like, in various cyclists, but I think I just want to be myself first.
Of course, there are some skills that one athlete might have that I don’t, and I would want that particular skill, but then he lacks other skills.
Maybe there’s not a perfect rider or a perfect role model, maybe that’s the conclusion. I love everyone, and I see some excellent things, but there is not one person I would say, “This is the guy who is my role model.”
The best advice he ever received
Christian: What is the best advice you have received, and who gave it to you?
Matthijs: Also, a really hard one. Maybe it’s more small bits of advice, I cannot recall one particular thing. I think it’s the combined sum of small advice that is really important.
Christian: Can you give a few examples of advice that you received at some point?
Matthijs: My old coach René Wolff used to say, “Sometimes when you choose to follow one path, for example, training or racing for one year, it’s possible that after six months you think, “It doesn’t feel so good, maybe I should do something else.” And of course, that’s possible but sometimes you also need to see it through. So, do the full year, maybe after one year it’s different.”
So, if you choose one way, go for it 100% and don’t quit in the middle because you’re in doubt. It’s normal to have doubt but just continue this way. I think that was good advice.
If you choose one way, go for it 100%. Don’t quit in the middle, because you have doubts, it’s normal to have doubts. But just keep going.
A typical training day
Christian: What does a typical training day look like? We spoke about that and the training camp, but any other things you want to mention?
Matthijs: If you look at, for example, a training week, we would do two or three days gym in the week followed by track training in the afternoon. So, you would have, for example, Monday – gym, track; Wednesday – gym, track; Friday – gym, track; gym would be in the morning and track would be in the afternoon. On Tuesday and Thursday, you would also do track training or endurance on the road. That’s what a normal training week would look like.
Christian: What do you do between training?
Matthijs: Eat and nap.
Matthijs interview nomination
Christian: Do you want to nominate someone for another interview?
Matthijs: I thought about that, but I don’t really know. I don’t really know Olympians from other sports that I could ask. I could ask some cyclists, but you’re already doing this interview with me.
Where can you find Matthijs Büchli
Christian: The videos from the Olympics are on YouTube and we will put the links in the description. I will also put links to the videos that are on my website.
Where can people find you and find out more about you? If they want to offer you a sponsorship, where is best for them to find you?
Matthijs: Just check out my Instagram account, that’s where I post my stuff. And check out Beat Cycling Club, they follow us a lot and they do a lot of videos and photos as well.
Christian: Thanks for your time Matthijs.
Matthijs: No worries, thank you.