Pyeongchang 2018

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How sport helped this Olympian overcome his shyness

Sport can change lives in so many different ways. Some big, globally felt impacts. Others small, individual, subtle. But all are important.

Raphael Holzdeppe has his own, special story of how sport helped transform his live.

The German now spends his life aspiring to ever greater heights.

Through pole vault, Holzdeppe found a way to overcome his own, personal barrier.

A path through sport

Growing up in the city of Kaiserslautern in southwest Germany, Holzdeppe was considered a good student – and obviously blessed with athletic prowess.

But still something held him back.

“Back in my school days, I used to be very shy,” Holzdeppe reveals.

Shyness can be a nice quality to have. But it can also be an incredibly restrictive force, preventing people from taking opportunities that exist.

For Holzdeppe, it was sport that showed him the path to fulfilling his potential.

“Sport showed me that there is no reason to be shy and that it is OK to be proud of your personal achievements.”

The 28-year old’s message for others is clear:

“You have to be self-confident and proud of what you achieve. Regardless of whether this is in sports or in any other job.”

Renewed hope

After bursting onto the scene as a junior, the German competed at Beijing 2008 aged just 19.

Holzdeppe captured bronze at London 2012 and was then crowned World Champion the following year.

Since then his progress has been mixed; setting a PB of 5.94 metres in 2015, but failing to deliver at Rio 2016.

But a new season brings renewed hope.

Already looking forward to the European Championships in Berlin next August, the Olympics are always in front of him.

The indoor training centre at his home club in Zweibruken has the Olympic rings adorned on the wall behind the crash mat.

The rings serve as a constant reminder for Holzdeppe, as he continues to try and reach new heights.

But in another sense, the German wants to keep his feet on the ground.

According to Holzdeppe, never confuse confidence for something else.

“This has nothing to do with arrogance. I don’t like arrogance.”

“But you can still be proud of what you have achieved.”



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