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– Paul Berger places Germany U-23 eighth in the European Championships in Kreuzwika / Poland for a bronze medal. We spoke to the 23-year-old about his goals for this season, the big dream of Elite Eight and the shortcomings of a competitive athlete.

Paul Burger looks very comfortable on the phone. Birds chirp in the background, otherwise There is a quiet silence for the listener. The first impression is right. “Right now, I’m in Tübingen with my parents, clearing my head and taking a deep breath.” The 22-year-old recently celebrated a tremendous success with his eighth team U23. Even if it seemed like a compulsory program to him: “The bronze medal was the most important to me.”

As a reserve already in the World Cup

What at first glance seems completely detached is in fact only the result of months of work. Because the Burger was supposed to celebrate even greater success. Participation as a start in the U-23 World Championship. “Unfortunately, I was nominated for a replacement,” he says. And this is definitely an important post, because: “Someone can always get hurt or get sick, and then I have to jump right into the rags.” He participated in stationary training and was part of the team. “But the coaches, the team doctors or the supervisors, of course, focus in the beginning,” says Burger.

Canoeing as a new discovery

The burger wasn’t always blasphemous. Only at the age of fifteen did his uncle set him on fire. “Don’t you wanna try it?” Says Burger. It was originally a burger hobby with no big goals or plans.

Born in Tübingen, he graduated from high school in 2017, after which he stayed at home for another year to obtain a rowing license. The hobby turned into a passion. But Burger really wanted to study computer science, so he moved to Erlangen, where he lives to this day.

Balancing competitive sport and private life

Last year’s U23 burger is coming to an end. After that, the future of sport is uncertain. Because soon the most important decisions in his career will be made for him. A burger feels like everything or nothing when it talks about your sporting goals. Realistically, there is one goal for me in the elite sector. Paris 2024. Thanks to this, the burger goes to the Olympic Games. Participation is not excluded there. But the sacrifices it has to make are enormous.

The dark side of competitive sports

In some clubs of the National League, a footballer earns several hundred euros. The time it takes has nothing to do with what the burger does. “The training should be 15 to 20 hours,” he says. That’s what his trainer, Ingo Euler thinks. “Rowing is very intuitive and consciously nothing is possible. Besides, it is very stressful due to the movement of the whole body. So you have to train a lot, a lot and a lot again in the water, ”says Euler.

Calm before the storm: the burger during the training break before it gets tough again.

© Paul Burger, N

This imbalance between effort and income, as well as uncertainty whether he will be able to reach eighth place among the elite in the German national team, leaves Burger in doubt about his sporting future. “Less than 20 percent,” he says, pointing to his chances of finishing eighth among the hard-earned places in Germany.

The future is the future

Highly reflective sports burger. It becomes clear when you talk to him. Even if there was sadness in his voice. He does not allow ill-considered and hectic decisions to affect his sporting future. “I just think from season to season,” he says. “The plans for 2022 are not working right now, this is not a vacation.” Although training is not long to start, he just wants to distance himself from the sport. “To jump to eighth place, I have to relocate to the base in Dortmund. So I had to give up Erlangen and put my studies first, ”he says.

Hard work or talent?

Ingo Euler is in charge of training rowers in Erlangen. As a three-time Olympian, he is able to judge whether an athlete will jump to the top or not. But he doesn’t want to make such a prophecy in Burger, as Euler says: “Paul is a very nice and kind person who pressures him for it.” The Burger himself has to decide about everything that has to do with his sporting future.

Rowing becomes a team sport on a two-person boat.  In the back, teamwork and coordination are important - the steersman in Sagittarius has it all in sight.  The burger (third from the left) is located in

Rowing becomes a team sport on a two-person boat. In the back, teamwork and coordination are important – the steersman in Strzelce has it all in view. The burger (third from the left) sits in the “engine room” of the boat and is the main driving force.

© Paul Burger, N

“The talent is there,” says Euler. “But Paul also works very meticulously and motivates him to develop his talent.” Because physiologically speaking, a burger is a real treat for the elite. “The coach of the national team has really fallen,” says Euler.

Two meters tall, max 95 kg, good lifts and athletic figure. All conditions are optimal. But persistence is the limiting factor these days. “Paul has been working hard on this for two years,” says Euler, adding more endurance runs on a racing bike or mini-bike to his student’s training plan.

Erlangen as a function of location

I am currently enjoying a burger here and now. He has very good training conditions in Erlangen and the Main-Danube canal is a clear advantage of the site. “Here we can implement many modules with a length of 20-22 km,” says Burger. Trainer Ingo Euler also loves Erlangen as a paddling place. It is approximately six kilometers between two locks, and it takes approximately 30 minutes for athletes. “The turn takes five minutes, but it’s perfect from a training point of view,” says Euler.

Other athletes have to paddle on the lake, where the winds and waves are completely different from the sheltered canal and the steering is much more difficult. Or in a regatta like in Munich, where turns are very frequent. “Obviously it’s comfy side by side on a channel, it’s just too narrow for that. The cargo movement also disrupts the training flow from time to time. But I am always in favor of thinking about establishing a base in Erlangen because the advantages clearly outweigh the benefits, ”says Euler.

keep rowing!

Regardless of what his sporting future holds, Burger obviously did not get his rowing instructor license without ulterior motive. An alternative to a career that Coach Euler is pleased with: “As someone with a good heart, Paul would certainly be a great coach,” he says. The Burger himself can identify with being a coach as well. But here too it refers to him: “All in good time.”

Suddenly the connection is broken when Burger replies again, he just laughs. “Sorry, I have a prepaid contract and my balance seems empty.” Prepaid – today a relic from the beginning of the mobile era. The fact that he forgot his balance on the phone confirms the impression that the conversation had made with him: modest and relaxed. The burger will probably not be put down at all.

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