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”.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Born 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.