"It is all about the mindset and breaking through their comfort zone."


16 June 2022

Germany had their best World Cup, possibly ever, with Yannick Flohé winning and Hannah Meul getting the silver. Before the women's final, 8a talked to the German Head coach, Ingo Filzwieser, and congratulated him for the great results and also for having four guys in the male semi. Asking him about the reason for the impressive progress the German team has made, he hesitated and gave it a long thought.

"I think most important is the mindset. Everyone is stronger mentally and somehow myself and they (the athletes) all think they can make finals. We have a great team and train together (and) at the same time, Hannah for example is doing most of her training with her personal coach in Cologne. You know, everyone is (an) individual and different approaches are necessary but at the same time we often meet and train together. I am not surprised that Hannah made it to the final and she can send all problems in the final."

We asked Ingo the reason for getting mentally stronger and he pointed out towards their new coach, Sagi Damti from Israel, in the picture. We had a short chat with Sagi and I was blown away by his story and passion for climbers. "I am just one of the coaches. All athletes are equally important for me. Please do not focus just on Yannick and Hannah, it is about the team... Megos for example is the best teammate you could think about."

In short, Sagi's story goes something like this: He started climbing in the Dolomites. He was going for a base jump and in the end, he had to make a 4-pitch 6a but in the end, they had to drag him up as he was terrified. Going back home he jumped off the train station and with his suitcase in his hand he went across the street to a climbing gym and signed up for a course. A few months later the manager asked him if I could run some training groups for kids. His background was working with kids with special needs and the manager said that was enough. Some months later, he started putting up routes and some years later he started to work as a coach for the Israeli team.

They met the Germans in competitions and sometimes they trained together. Last year, he was asked if he could apply to be their boulder coach and he did, even though he knew that one of the other applications came from a trainer he had looked up to for several years, almost like an idol. At 7 o'clock he gets the phone call (and an offer) and he does not know what to say. He asked Alex Khazanov for advice and approval and was convinced. "It is time for you to focus a bit on yourself and in the long run you can come back to us and then you can help Israel even more."

Asking Sagi if he can explain something about how he works he gives examples like. "When I am next to an athlete, I make them understand that my job is 100 % about assisting them. It can be setting some specific boulders for them, reflecting on their thoughts or simply just bringing them a coffee. It is about breaking their comfort zone. Everyone is different and there are no magic words. I express myself as a trainer through route setting I guess. I am obsessed with it and even on my free days, I cannot help myself ending up in the gym thinking about how I can challenge the athletes. Nevertheless, Ingo is the smartest trainer I know, he is doing all the hard training planning. I am just having fun." and that big smile comes again.

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