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19 Jan 2024

Team spirit with the German Men’s Eight

Interview Sponsoring

“If everyone brings their personality and strengths to the table, then greatness is possible.”

The “Road to Paris 2024” has begun for the German Men's Eight team. Before things get serious for the men from the flagship of German rowing at the Olympic regatta, we spoke to them about one of the most important factors for success: team spirit. Read here about what it takes to make a winning team, how the athletes deal with setbacks and challenges and why people’s differences can enrich a team.

Wilo: Which three words best describe your team and why?

Jonas Wiesen:Team spirit. The only way we can reach our goals is together. That’s why we’re there to support each other on our way to the top.
Determination. Everyone has the big goal of “Paris 2024” in mind and is prepared to sacrifice everything else to this goal every day.
Responsibility. Everyone pushes themselves to their physical limits, as the entire team is responsible for each team member’s performance.

Wilo: What makes a “team player” and how do you know whether someone will fit into the team?

Kaspar Virnekäs: A team player gives their all for the team and is committed to helping others improve their performance. In principle, anyone who is ambitious, determined and has a good sense of humour can join the team. When everyone is free to bring their personality and strengths to the table, greatness is possible. Homogeneity is not that important here. Different characters, perspectives and approaches can actually promote the development process too. But everyone has to accept the role they have within the team and be prepared to deliver maximum performance.

Wilo: Even though there’s only nine people sitting in the boat, the team around it is much bigger. No two people work exactly the same way. What special challenges does this teamwork involve?

Olaf Roggensack: We’re all pursuing the same goal: to be successful in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Even though we’re all different and everyone has their own quirks, we want to deliver the best possible performance as a team. This binds us together and makes us forget the differences that sometimes just come up from spending so much time together. Everyone always does their best for each other so that we can be successful together. For me, that carries more weight than all the other challenges that crop up working in a team like ours.

Wilo: What strategies do you use to motivate each other?

Julius Christ: The sporting competition is a strong motivator. During training, we are spurred on by our teammates’ performances, so we always give our best. Because in order to keep up with the best in the world, each individual has to give their absolute best. As well as this, the performances of our international competitors always serve as an incentive. Because we want to get back to the top.

Wilo: How do you resolve conflicts or challenging situations together as a team?

Hannes Ocik: The greatest potential for conflict can be minimised in advance through clear communication, planning and organisation. Of course, this doesn’t work every time. But that’s completely normal too. If a conflict arises, it helps us to talk about it or to take a step back from the specific situation. You can get a new perspective on a lot of things after a good night’s sleep and when your energy is replenished.

Wilo: What do you do to strengthen team spirit? Are there any special exercises, activities or rituals you do before competitions?

Sönke Kruse: You can clearly see the strong team spirit before and during internal performance reviews in particular. Even those times when we compete against each other, we always wish each other success, motivate and support each other. Team spirit with us goes far beyond a simple high-five before starting and doesn’t disappear even when we’re in competition with each other.

Wilo:What are the ingredients for successful teamwork and how do you know whether you’ve set up a team that could be successful?

Benedict Eggeling: For me, the basic ingredients for successful teamwork are mainly trust, clear communication, common goals and mutual respect. For us, trust between us athletes and the coaches, but also among the athletes, is a key element. This requires open and honest communication, of course. In order for us to achieve our common goals, it’s crucial that we learn from setbacks, accept our weaknesses and continue to develop by setting realistic goals. I believe that we are able to know we have a team that could be successful if, as well as other things, there is a goal-oriented approach to successes and failures. Team success is always based on a shared attitude, perseverance and an honest, committed approach.

Wilo:From one team to another: the most important rule for success in a team is…?

Mattes Schönherr: Respect. Respectful behaviour is essential if you want to be successful as a team. It’s about listening to the other person and accepting and valuing their opinion. This is the only way we can successfully overcome conflicts and, in doing so, strengthen the team.