Why not ‘twice in a lifetime’?
After the voting for the IWGA Team of the Year 2022, the Flying Disc squad from Germany was really able to cheer. The fourth-placed team in ‘Ultimate’ Flying Disc at TWG 2022 succeeded here handsomely. In this interview there was more than one champion to answer the questions, there were three: The captains Anna Gerner and Steffen Döscher, together with Stefan Rekitt, member of the German coaching team, shared their view on ‘a once in a lifetime’ experience – but it might not be the last one ….
What does the title ‘The World Games Team of the Year 2022’ mean to you?
Stefan: For Flying Disc athletes, participating in The World Games is the pinnacle of their sports career, so the German team was excited to be nominated for the Team of the Year Award. Team Flying Disc Germany is proud that we could deliver a convincing performance at The World Games, and now also win this award. We are honoured that the fans and supporters kept voting for us, and thereby acknowledged our appearance in Birmingham, USA. This means a lot for us as a team and also for our community and the recognition of our sport. This was only topped by the fact that not only did Flying Disc win in the Team of the Year competition, but also Valeria Cardenas from the Flying Disc team from Colombia won the Athlete of the Year award in a spectacular manner, and well deserved. It was a big day for our sport.
Who from your families, friends and your sporting colleagues reacted?
Anna: Actually, everyone has responded. What surprised me the most was the fact that not only did players from the Flying Disc community congratulate us, but also friends and acquaintances from all walks of life. Everybody was thrilled and supported us.
Who was the first to congratulate?
Anna: My parents were the first to congratulate me. They watched our matches at The World Games with great interest and also voted diligently. I congratulated my team-mates and our coaches first. I am incredibly proud of the team and thankful for the support of the Ultimate community. But the vote also shows that through The World Games we were able to reach people outside the Ultimate scene and inspire them for our sport.
How did you get your fans behind you?
Stefan: Our Media Director was on fire from day one. We reached out to our fans and supporters through social media, chat groups, mailing lists and the newsletter. We not only approached the German Flying Disc community, but also friends, families, and work or school colleagues. I think it helped that we as a team are well-connected far beyond Germany. The World Flying Disc Federation represents us in national federations worldwide in more than 100 countries. We are very thankful for the support we received from all over the world.
Where will you keep the trophy? Will it become a trophy that is transferred from one team member to another?
Steffen: That's an interesting idea. When the trophy has finished its journey through Germany, it could be given a place of honour at the Bundesleistungszentrum, the performance base of our Association in Darmstadt. Many teams of all divisions and age in Germany use this place for training camps. I see this award as an appreciation for the whole German Flying Disc community, so I think this would be a fitting place for our trophy.
What are your memories of The World Games?
Steffen: Besides the moments on the pitch, I remember the special atmosphere of this great multi-sport event. Meeting athletes from other nations and sports made The World Games experience very unique, even compared to other international Flying Disc tournaments. Talking about our performance, our entry into the tournament was of course outstanding. We were confident and knew that we could compete with the best in the world. However, the fact that we were able to achieve such magnificent results against the favoured teams of Canada and the USA far exceeded our expectations.
Is there a moment at TWG 2022 in Birmingham that was particularly memorable for you?
Steffen: If it comes to a single moment that is still very much present, then for me it is probably a negative one and that is the end of our semi-final against Australia, which we lost by a narrow margin (12-13, ed.). Before that, the tournament was going perfectly, but reaching the final would have been the crowning glory. However, I also think that as a team we dealt with this setback very well and played a strong game for third place. That contributes to the fact that overall, of course, the many positive memories predominate.
What about the victory over USA? That was a bit of a sensation!
Anna: The USA have dominated the Flying Disc scene for years. In my active career, I can't remember a German national team winning against the USA before. For us, the USA were the ‘non plus ultra’ opponent at The World Games. It was super fun to play against them because those were the athletes we wanted to compete with. And then to win there in that game was an insanely outstanding feeling. We did it with team spirit and with cohesion and confidence on the pitch. We had prepared for more than a year, more intensively and for longer than any other team. Our win against the USA was a signal to the community: we can beat any opponent.
What are your goals for this year?
Stefan: This year we have the European Championships in Ireland. For us, the first one after the pandemic. We are keen to see if we can continue our good performance at TWG 2022 in Alabama. The other European nations, Great Britain and France, were also strongly represented at The World Games. We are looking forward to seeing them again and playing them.
And for the years ahead?
Stefan: After the European Championships comes the World Championships in 2024, and for us it is the qualifying tournament for the next edition of The World Games in Chengdu, China. We really hope that we can secure a spot for Germany in the 2025 tournament. Once you've been there, you always want to go back. The World Games is such a great event and for the Flying Disc teams, it’s a really unique event.
Have you ever looked up where Chengdu, host of TWG 2025, is on the map?
Steffen: As a matter of fact, yes. We all perceived The World Games 2022 as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime-experience’. But now, after this great experience and also because of the successful but still unfinished performance, without a medal, we want to get back to the Games again. Qualification for Chengdu is the big goal for the upcoming World Championships. Maybe then after all, ‘twice-in-a-lifetime’ will be even better.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.