One year on, the Tokyo Olympics are finally taking place, albeit without a national or international audience. (second in a series of twelve).
Our 12-strong Team Lëtzebuerg has athletes competing in athletics, cycling, swimming, equestrianism, table tennis, triathlon and archery.
FYI: The so-called “cadre élite” comprises those athletes who have both participated in a certain number of high-level competitions and either achieved, or been close to achieving, the specific standard set to enter the “high performance” category of their sport (distinguished from “mass sport” or “recreational sport”).
The “cadre promotion” includes athletes who have not yet made the “elite” category but have a realistic chance of doing so within the first 6 years upon admission. This is not achieved by meeting specific criteria, but by their general performance as well as participation in high performance international competitions (within respective age categories and 5th and 6th years of performance).
Michel Ries, another first-timer at the Olympics, has been in the “cadre promotion” since 2018 – this means he is one of the young athletes to watch out for.
At 23 years old, Ries is a professional cyclist for Trek-Segafredo, Union Cycliste International WorldTeam, the highest category in professional road cycling. Ries has taken home multiple first and second places, including the National Junior Road Championships, the National Under-23 Road Championships, the National Road Championships and was 1st in the Stage 3 Giro della Valle d’Aosta.
The biggest challenge about preparing for the Olympics however, was the constant postponing and resetting of races: “It wasn’t easy to stay focused and to adapt every time. It was also hard to get used to the heat and general weather conditions in Japan.”
“I don’t really follow any rituals [for my success] but in general I try to be perfectly prepared for the race in question. That way I can stand at the start line, relaxed in the knowledge I’ve done everything I can.”
Ries said he also learned that when it comes to achieving your goals, hard work is key: “You can only do it if you work really hard and concentrate on yourself. Don’t let yourself be influenced too much by others.”
In a Team Lëtzebuerg promotional video, Ries noted: “We expect a very difficult route but I think we have a strong team. It’s a great honour to represent your country at the biggest sporting event in the world. Participating in the Olympics is the biggest highlight of any athlete’s career.”