Path to PyeongChang 2018: Swiss Curler benefits from past Olympic experiences

24 | 7 | 2017

With 200 days to go to PyeongChang 2018, athletes from all over the world are busy preparing for their chance to compete at next year’s Winter Olympic Games. For some it will be a new experience as first-time Olympians, for others, a chance to return to Olympic competition four years after the last Games.

One Olympian competing in his second Games is Swiss curler Benoit Schwarz, who made his Olympic debut at Sochi 2014.

He says there is definitely a different feeling competing as a returning Olympian but he is no less excited by the prospect.

“It will be different because in Sochi I was quite young and it opened my eyes to the magnitude of the Games. I was also at quite an early stage in my curling career so the experience has been an inspiration to me ever since.

“It will be very exciting to come back to the Games and discover another Olympic Park and another Olympic Village where the atmosphere is surreal and very motivating. Having the privilege to participate in a second Olympic Games is insane and I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity of coming back as a more experienced athlete this time around.

Last year, Benoit took time out of his training schedule to work as a volunteer at the World Olympians Association’s award-winning Rio 2016 Olympians Reunion Centre by EY (ORC), welcoming athletes from around the world, who came together to share experiences and discuss ways to better serve their communities. He says his experience in Rio helped shape his thinking on what the Olympic Games truly mean to him.

“When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the Olympic Games; they were always a big dream for me. Rio was incredible because I had the chance to see another side of the Games and the opportunity to support my fellow Olympians at the ORC. I also met fantastic people in the volunteer crew and Rio itself is obviously an amazing city.

“During those twelve days, I took the time to truly enjoy the Games. This is something that is difficult to do when you are a competing athlete, particularly in a sport like curling, which usually runs for the duration of the Games.”

As a result of his time working with World Olympians Association at the ORC and also in his role as treasurer with the Swiss Olympians Association, Benoit has dedicated time to thinking about his future career. As well as juggling training and study, this June and July he has taken part in a summer internship through the Swiss Olympic Committee’s Athlete Career Programme to help him with his transition once he retires from competitive sport.

“I think that it is important to plan ahead. Every single elite athlete will face a moment in their life when their sporting career is over and they need to focus on other goals. It’s all about planning properly for those new goals.

“When it comes to the business world, I think that elite athletes can bring attributes to many roles, such as the ability to deal with pressure, assume responsibilities, lead a team, solve unexpected problems and they usually have great social skills. Olympians are extremely motivated individuals and they know how to go for the extra mile when pursuing a goal.”

World Olympians Association will be revealing more details about its Olympian programme of events and activities at PyeongChang2018 later in the year. Keep an eye out for our announcement on registration coming soon.