It’s been a while since I last sat outdoors writing articles for this blog but apparently, at least in our little part of the world, spring is finally here. And the same is very much true for the world of sports. Seasons are changing and so the pre-Olympic winter of 2016/17 has come to a close. New heroes emerged, longtime legends proved their unwavering strength, favourites for Olympic glory set their marks on the road to Pyeongchang, while many questions still remain unanswered. Including the issue of Russian participation in the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
But now, as only Figure Skating, Curling and Ice Hockey still have to complete their World Championships, let’s focus on what lies ahead during the next months.
Spring marks the start of the ‘green season’ for riders and horses, with the most prestigious and most beautiful tournaments, at least those held in Europe, coming up. Of course, I’m especially looking forward to returning to Hamburg-Klein Flottbek for the 88th German Jumping Derby and the 59th German Dressage Derby. This year the tournament schedule was expanded even further to include a fifth full day of competition and, for the first time since 2006, a team jumping event. Other traditional tournaments like Wiesbaden, Balve, Hickstead, and of course the CHIO in Aachen will follow soon after.
The cycling season is taking up speed as well, and while my enthusiasm in following this sport is still a bit reserved due to you-know-what, especially the spring classics are a quite exciting affair. The 101st Ronde van Vlaanderen will be held this Sunday (April 2nd), with Liège-Bastogne-Liège following a few weeks later. And the Grand Tours are also not far away, starting with the Giro d’Italia from May 5th to 28th. The Tour de France (July 1st to 23rd) will have it’s ‘Grand Départ’ in Düsseldorf, as mentioned before also host to the Table Tennis World Championships, this year.
Athletes on track, field and road will start the outdoor season, leading up to the IAAF World Championships in London’s Olympic Stadium in August, with several high-profile meetings and city-marathons. Germany’s athletes will seek to verify their reasonably good results during the indoor season, while for Jamaica the final year of Usain Bolt’s outstanding career has begun. The Hamburg Marathon on April 23rd will feature an Olympic Champion for the very first time, with Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich at the starting line.
While on the roads and tracks the hunt for an ever so slight advantage within hundreths of a second is on, a different tone will be set in Augusta, Georgia. The Masters, starting April 6th, will not only be the first major of the year, but, as always, a tournament like no other. At Magnolia Lane, where fans crowding the greens and fairways in thousands will marvel at the beauty of the course so much that the actual leader board will be seemingly shrinking in its importance. And the one to whom Augusta is what Wimbledon always has been to Boris Becker will return as well. This will be Bernhard Langer’s 34th Masters tournament and most likely not his last one.
Speaking of Wimbledon, the Tennis season will continue, with Angelique Kerber back at No. 1, eventhough her current season is not going as well as she would have wanted, while on the Men’s side Roger Federer appears to be in impressive shape.
The top events of the next months will be undoubtedly the French Open in May/June and then the All England Championships in July.
Not far from Wimbledon some other champions in a most traditional event will be crowned this weekend. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge are competing in the 163rd Boat Race on the River Thames. The Light Blues from Cambridge will seek to retain their title after winning by 2 1/2 lenghts last year, ending a three year winning streak for Oxford. For the third time in history, the Women’s Boat Race will be competed on the same day and on the same course, an hour before the men’s race. It took them 88 years to receive the honour they always deserved.
As you can see, quite a lot is going on in the world of top-level sport. But this is even more true for the lower divisions, amateur or collegiate sports. So, even if you can’t get a ticket for Wimbledon, live far away from the course of ‘Le Tour’ or couldn’t really warm up to Golf so far, I encourage you to find the sport wherever you are. Sometimes it’s not the big names but the ‘unknowns’ who write far better, more inspiring stories. And there, on the smallest grounds, pitches, racetracks, parcours, you will find wonderful people you’ve never met, practising sports you hardly know, but with a captivating attitude and their hearts beating passionately for the sport they love and enjoy.
Or, maybe, I have an even better idea: Go ahead and write your own story! Get active, get out of your comfort-zone! Try something new, maybe a new sport. Find out what you are capable of and then redefine your own personal goals, your limits, your horizon.
To all of you: have a wonderful springtime 2017!