Strong Voice Interview #31: Kristina Vogel
In the meantime, there is no way around Kristina - luckily! I am very happy that Kristina is our Strong Voice in October, because the fact that she is so incredibly positive, courageous and inspiring can also be read between the lines in the interview. Rarely has an interview touched me so deeply. Thank you, Kristina, for this wonderful interview and your important and inspiring words!!!
"So there are things I can't change, but I can decide how I want to deal with them."
Your career and your willpower are more than impressive. But let's start from the beginning. You are a 17-time world champion in bicycle racing - a passion that started at the age of 10. How did this passion come about?
Like so many things in my life, this has grown. I once flipped a coin because I couldn't decide whether I'd rather dance or do cycling. The coin decided cycling and I threw myself into the adventure. Through training, I gradually got better and better and gradually made my environment more and more professional. 18 years later, I am a 2-time Olympic champion and 17-time world champion, making me the most successful track cycling sprinter in the world. I was also lucky here and there that people asked me "Fancy track cycling?" and I always said "Sure, I'll just give it a try!".
Such success in sports requires a lot of motivation, training and stamina. What were the most important factors for your ambition and success - even over defeats and setbacks?
Through competitive sports, I manifested the following performance principles for myself:
- In life there is no elevator, you have to take the stairs.
- If you can dream it, you can do it! I have to manifest my goals, but I also have to do everything to achieve them. But here I have always been rather realistic.
- Don't forget how important intermediate goals are! I didn't become Olympic champion right away, but first German champion, European champion, etc. We always think about the big steps, but forget the small ones in between.
- Be focused, but flexible. I have learned in life: Plans are great, but life always interferes and throws everything out of whack.
Your paraplegia once turned your life upside down - but you didn't let it get you down, instead you took advantage of new opportunities. What was the decisive factor for your confidence? What advice would you give to other people who are going through a stroke of fate?
I didn't come into the world and say "I'm a rock, I can handle an accident like that". But in the end it is like this: When we are faced with problems and changes, then these look TREMENDOUS. Insuperable, like Mont Everest. If one has made it then, although it perhaps is not the mountain at the Müggelsee, but perhaps only like the Brocken!
In 2021 you published a book about your experiences. What would you like to give your readers to take away with it?
Somehow, no one believed me when I said that you do NOT have to fall into a black hole after a stroke of fate. After all, it is said "fall down, straighten the crown and move on". So I have explained in my book what makes me, how I became through the sport, who I am today and how I managed that an accident is also just a job I have done.
What life motto has accompanied you through the ups and downs of your career?
For whatever reason, I have a very deep-rooted basic trust that everything in life will turn out well if I work hard and try to do everything for it. I don't have a specific role model, rather many people who say good things to me. One of my coaches once said to a world championship with very difficult conditions: Everyone has to go through it, the one who accepts it the fastest and gets along with it will be world champion in the end. So there are things I can't change, but I can decide how I want to deal with them.
If you had to give young women a motivational boost to pursue their dreams, what would it be?
We often ask ourselves: Am I good at this? Am I qualified enough for it? Sure, these questions are good, but you can also learn things along the way. For example, you can only learn to swim if you swim!
What are your goals for the next few years?
I have a few goals that I would like to achieve. For example, I am currently planning my second book. I hope that this will be published in 2024. Other than that: I want to be happy and do things that I enjoy or where I realize that I can make a difference. For example, I clarify daily on my social media channels that life in a wheelchair is difficult, but not because of the wheelchair. But by the lack of inclusion, diversity, accessibility and people who want to implement it.
Kristina Vogel is an Olympic champion, multiple world champion, author and above all one thing: a role model for many of us! Even though Kristina had to deal with setbacks early on, she has always worked her way back to the track. In 2016, she won the first Olympic gold as a track cyclist in Rio de Janeiro. Shortly afterwards, Kristina became a paraplegic and fought her way back into life in the weeks that followed. With her irrepressible energy, she realises many new projects. Today she is not only the author of her first book "Immer noch ich. Nur anders", but also a sought-after speaker.