Steffen Oberst: “Short Ways” to Olymp

The Olympiastützpunkt Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland (OSP), a central support and service institute for top athletes of both federal states, has its head office at the Her­­mann-Neuberger-Sportschule in Saar­­­brü­­cken. The main sports trained here are badminton, track and field, wrestling, row­­ing and triathlon. Also top athletes in gym­­nastics, swimming, football and basket­­ball make use of the infrastructure and services in Saar­­brücken, where a total of over 100 ath­­­­letes are trained and supported. As a ser­­vice provider for elite athletes, the Olympia­­stütz­­punkt foremost duty lies in providing overall advice and support for youth and elite athletes and their coaches. The heart of the OSP beats in Saar­brü­­cken Stadtwald at the Hermann-Neu­ber­­ger-Sportschule, which thanks to nu­­me­­rous in­­­­vestments has become one of the most modern and high­­est quality training places in the world, as the German triathlon Olym­­pic cham­­pion of Beijing 2008, Jan Fro­­deno, can ne­­ver ceas to stress enough. Af­­ter nu­­merous new constructions, such as a house for the ath­­letes, track and field hall and swimm­­­­ing pool – as well as renovations to other sporting venues and infrastruc­­ture, the grounds on which the Olym­­piastütz­­punkt Rhein­­land-Pfalz/Saar­land is housed and where the supported athletes live and train, glows in new light. The magic formu­­la by which the quality of this state-­­of-the-art training area and goldsmith’s for Olym­­pic suc­cess can be best de­­scribed is termed “short ways”.


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The Olympiastützpunkt in Saarbrücken impresses through its all-round service on one spot: sport facilities, weight rooms, running track, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, medical departments, athlete housing; all these lie within close prox­­imity to one another. With nine hectares of pure green grounds, the area of the Hermann-Neuberger-Sportschule of­­fers OSP athletes superb conditions to train on, learn and live in.

Besides optimal training venues, ef­­­­fi­cient sporting support by means of a five-star cook, day boarding school for young athletes of the nearby “elite sports school”, the Gymasium am Ro­­­­tenbühl in Saar­­brücken, as well as apart­­ments for 45 elite athletes, through its close prox­­imity to Saarland Uni­ver­­sity, the private Schule für Prä­­ven­­tion und Gesundheits­manage­ment (School for Health Management) as well as the BSA Akademie, the Olympiastützpunkt also offers ideal conditions for athletes to combine career pros­­pects with occupational training in the form of studies.

Housing living and bedrooms, training facilities and lecture halls – all within a diameter of 500 meters – is a time-saving concentration of infrastructure that presumably exists nowhere else.
The fact that Saarland – Germany’s small­­­est federal state – can boast the advantages of the location through this characteristic in the field of sports, is pro­­ved by the outstanding contacts be­­tween the Olym­­piastützpunkt and the Lan­­des­­­sport­­verband für das Saarland, numerous companies that exist to support top athletes of the state and, last but not least, the Ministerium für Inneres und Sport, Saarland, as well as the Stiftung Deutscher Sporthilfe and the Sporthilfe Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland. In this way, a police sports promotion group was specially developed for the promotion of top athletes in Saarland at the Polytechnic Institute for Admini­­stra­­tion to allow athletes to be educated as po­­lice officers in addition to their sport­­ing careers.

Regardless of whether university, col­­lege, trainee positions, internships or school career of athletes, OSP career advisers assist as service provider for all questions concerning the oc­­cupational development and problems that arise as a result of bringing these in harmony with the hard training to­­wards Olympic success.

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With its tight-knit social networks, environmental management belongs to one of the most important duties of the Olympiastützpunkte, as even the most successful sporting career comes to an end sometime and only few athletes are able to continue to live from their sport after that and thus must also succeed in the step towards working life.

The knowledge which the Olympia­­stütz­­punkt makes available to athletes and their coaches naturally also encompasses the medical field. Regardless of wheth­­er physiotherapy, rehabilitation after in­­jury, special athletic training for the pre­­vention of health-related problems or medical sport check-ups and performance diagnostics, for which the OSP in Saarbrücken has for many years cooperated with re­­nowned medical sports doctors of Saar­­land University such as the Olympic doctor Professor Wilfried Kindermann and Pro­­fessor Tim Meyer, who equally have their sight on the training and living quarters of the athletes:


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Experienced and highly motivated ex­­perts work at the Olympiastützpunkt in each of these areas and, together with coaches employed at the OSP, as well as the national team managers of the sport associa­­tions, they prepare athletes for top per­­for­­mance and accompany them in their continuous, long-term development of per­­formance and path to top world rankings.

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To find and exploit potential performance reserves is the job of the OSP’s bio-tech­­nicians, who also help by examining ath­­letes’ movements with special analysis equipment, video evaluation and state-of-the-art measuring systems and are often able to provide valuable tips on the technique and optimization of training. For, even at the Olympiastützpunkt Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland, there ex­­ists no short-cut on the path towards a precious Olympic medal. Only many years of hard, intensive training can lead to this goal. Yet athletes can hardly find better conditions anywhere else for crossing the often rocky path.

OberstBorn in 1958, the author studied biology and sport sciences in Mainz. Follow­­ing his first qualifying examination for the post of grammar school teacher, he be­­gan his career as head of the com­­pe­­ti­­tive sports de­­part­­ment of the Landes­sport­­bund Rhein­­land-Pfalz and directed the training centres (OSP) in Mainz 1990–1993. After the joining of the Mainz and Saar­­brü­­cken OSP, he became manager of the OSP Rheinland-Pfalz/Saar­­land, which he has directed since 2000.