We recently introduced you to the life story of Andreas Niedrig, and today we bring you the interview with the enigmatic German athlete, husband, father, motivator and former junkie. Part 2 of 2.
ST: As a former junkie you most likely have opinions about drugs in cycling and triathlon. What can you tell us about that?
Andreas: What do you say to that? The belief in a clean sport has been lost because of all the positive cases. But I believe that it is different in triathlon than for example in cycling. It is certain that people will manipulate things when performance is at issue, and triathlon is no exception. But we are an individual sport, where each athlete must decide whether he or she dopes or whether he or she performs clean. Additionally a triathlete has to deal with the syringe him/herself and doesn’t have the professional team support as a road team does. In Germany since the case of Nina Kraft we now have a professional passport. We have to pay at the beginning of the season for this passport and will thus be integrated into the testing pool. People who not get the passport are not allowed to compete in international races and are not eligible for prize money. Ironman Frankfurt has their own zero tolerance policy and requires additional testing. Whether this is sufficient remains to be seen. It is my hope that we as athlete role models for the youth continue to aim for sporting achievements and dreams, but let us please do it "CLEAN."
ST: Is there a result you're particularly proud of?
Andreas: In 2006 I was 44th in Roth and that is the most important race of my career. I had a small operation at the Achilles tendon in 2003 and it should have been minor surgery but it went very wrong. My Achilles tendon got ruptured and what was to be minor ended up being nine operations. For two years I had to walk with crutches and before the last operation the doctors had l14 days to decide whether my foot needed to be amputated or not. My bone was necrotic, basically dead. They ended up using two titanium screws and fastened my tendon back to the heel, but I wouldn’t be able to do sports again, the doctors said. Never? Don’t ever tell me never! I wanted to finish well one more time and say goodbye that way. That was 2006 with my 44th place and the time of 9.03 in Roth.
ST: You said goodbye to competitive racing, but it seems that you changed your mind.
Andreas: In April I managed an incredible comeback. Despite flat tires and a not so impressive run I still finished 9th at Ironman South Africa. In Germany, I recently won two Olympic distance races with very good fields, and even more amazing, I'm currently back on the national team and will be representing Germany at the ITU long distance Worlds in Almer, Netherlands. Let's see, I believe in the impossible and maybe I’ll be the world champion at age 40.
ST: What other sports did you grew up with?
Andreas: I mostly swam until age 13 and was as fast as 1:06 for the 100m backstroke. I also tried boxing and table tennis. I stumbled upon triathlon by accident really. A former swimming buddy invited me to an event, but the idea was for me to be a spectator. He ended up getting sick and I took his place.
ST: What do you do now in terms of training?
Andreas: 25-30 hours to professionally prepare for Worlds.
ST: Do you have any gripes about the sport of triathlon?
Andreas: I love the sport as it is. What I sometimes miss though is a genuine friendship among triathletes in the professional field.
ST: What is going on in terms of sponsorships for you?
Andreas: I have two great partners. One is a horse ointment. Horse ointment? True, assists in the regeneration by supporting the circulation. My other partner is automobile manufacturer Mitsubishi.
ST: Which sports do you follow? What about Euro 2008?
Andreas: Soccer, soccer, soccer. My 10-year old son Lorenz is an enthusiastic soccer fan and also a gifted player. In 2006 he was part of the soccer World Cup in Germany and got to escort the Argentine player Ajal. Otherwise I am actually interested in actually any professional sport.
ST: What about your diet. What you like to eat and what don’t you like?
Andreas: I love to eat. Food also means being together with my family. Sitting in the kitchen, cooking, eating and talking about the day. There is nothing I do not like, but pizza and a decent steak ranks on the top.
ST: Can you tell us about your music taste?
Andreas: In my youth I mainly liked metal like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and ACDC etc. Today I also listen to the charts, Prince, Pink and pretty much anything live.
ST: What is the last book you read?
Andreas: The Graciano "Rocky" Rocchigiani biography. I love biographies
ST: Where do you think you’ll be in 5 years?
Andreas: I do not know. I always live in the here and now. I decide every second, minute, and hour again what I’ll do.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Andreas: I firmly believe that the love God gives us this "one" life to discover what we are capable of and what makes us happy. However, we have to be prepared to fight for our dreams and don’t wait for someone to take us by the hand and make us happy. We are responsible for our own luck and happiness. Nobody else.