Why did you choose cycling?
It goes a long way back as I was born into a family of cyclists. When I was 7 or 8, I was already riding my first racing bike. Up until I was 20, I was still able to ride solo on my bike as I did not yet have eye disease (retinitis pigmentosa) in this form. From then on, I had to keep letting more and more things go because of my visual impairment. Nevertheless, I was able to breathe new life into my old passion in 2014 by getting on a tandem. I came into contact with the national team coach through others and soon met my pilot Timo. Every time I get on the bike is a form of acceptance and processing and I now feel like a fully-fledged athlete.
What does speed mean to you?
Speed is the outcome of different factors such as training, equipment, position, and aerodynamics. Good equipment gives you an extra edge. You can train really hard but if you don’t do everything that’s necessary to your equipment, you’ve more or less trained for nothing, and will lose your advantage! A tandem does not necessarily go twice as fast since some of the aerodynamic force is lost in "drag", you have the disadvantage of the wind, and you are carrying more weight. Even though you are going downhill at 80 km per hour! Timo and I are pioneers when it comes to development in this area. We test special helmets, tires, shoes, etc. and are constantly making optimizations wherever possible.
Tell us about the teamwork. What’s it like while riding tandem?
In the beginning, I found it difficult to sit at the back as you are literally and figuratively letting someone else steer. You can’t brake either, but only pedal really fast and move together with the other person. You really have to trust one another, especially when going downhill! A lot of communication is intuitive and non-verbal. Timo and I have very different characters but we have learned to see ourselves as complementary to one another. As a result, we really strengthen each other! We are also both extremely ambitious and have very deliberately chosen to give it 300%.
What is your greatest success that means the most to you?
At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, we won one gold medal and two silver medals. The gold medal, in particular, meant a great deal as we had already spent three months away from home working on high-altitude training, training camps, and preparations. And then on the last day of the Games, after an extremely difficult road racecourse, we won the final sprint by a good margin... It was a tremendous release and an incredibly powerful moment in my life! We had achieved our goal with so much focus. Now, we are even more motivated to get gold in Tokyo!