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Champions of tomorrow meet in St Moritz

Fourteen young track talents from all over Europe converged in the mountain running mecca of St Moritz with one goal: to live and train like a professional athlete.

As part of its commitment to the development of young athletes, On invited talents from Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland to a 10-day training camp in the Swiss mountains.

“As part of On’s mission to ignite the human spirit through movement, we wanted to offer highly talented young athletes the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the world of professional sports,” said On Athlete Strategy & Partnership Project Manager Silja Mühlebach, who organised the camp. “The participants got to train in the same professional infrastructure that our OAC Europe athletes use and experienced how life as a professional athlete looks and feels like – valuable insights at a point when many of the young talents are considering their path forward.”

The camp was led by Emelia Gorecka, a former professional athlete representing Great Britain in various international youth and senior championships. Since the end of her career, the 29-year-old has gained valuable experience as a youth coach and teacher. In addition, OAC Europe Head Coach Thomas Dreissigacker supported the camp with his vast experience as a former German national coach for middle-distance running and his sports science background.

“The aim of the camp was to provide a nurturing environment for young athletes to experience what it is like to be an elite athlete. I feel positive about the camp, as I believe we did just that. Throughout the week we exposed the athletes to real-life experiences, such as managing their own time, cooking for themselves, and while also ensuring effective training and recovery throughout the week,” Emilia said. “I really look forward to watching the athletes develop throughout the next few years, and I hope they feel like they have contacts within our team that they can reach out to for support, if they ever need it.”

On schedule: a varied program of indoor and outdoor training sessions adapted to the high-altitude environment, team activities, professional physiotherapy, and different keynotes and workshops on topics like nutrition, media training, mental coaching, and the menstrual cycle and sports. Participants also had ample time to take care of school work, rest, and, most importantly, socialize and get to know their fellow participants.

Theodore, from France, said: “I really appreciated the difference in culture during this training camp, and I realized that sport and especially track and field can bring beautiful things.  Meeting the OAC athletes made me realize that they are human and that nothing is impossible when you are well supervised and surrounded.”

Highlights of the camp were the common training sessions with the On Athletics Club Europe athletes, who also took the time to mentor the young talents and share plentiful insights from their own careers with the talents in a Q&A session. A trip to the On Labs in Zürich, where participants had the chance to meet Swiss triathlon legend Nicola Spirig, was also included in the program.

The reach of the connection extended far beyond the track. Friendships for life were forged, languages learned, and recipes shared. The group dynamic was strengthened through the responsibility of properly fuelling as a group.

Germany’s Tiziana said: “I enjoyed meeting all of the new people. When we were together we learnt new words and languages. I learned how the other athletes cooked. We all liked fajitas, potatoes and carrots!”

OAC’s Marta García took the opportunity to connect with the up-and-comers between her own training sessions. She shared valuable insights from her own career, encouraging them to embrace the less pleasant aspects of professional sport.

She added: “I told them to enjoy everything they are doing! Sports give you some unique things, lots of feeling, but sometimes people struggle with some bad feelings as well like anxiety, pressure. So, I ask them to always have a balance full of positive things and work on the negative to transform it.”

The camp was the second of its kind after the pilot project successfully took place in St. Moritz last year. While the focus was on athletes from Germany and Switzerland for the maiden edition of the camp, the project grew to include athletes from Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland this year. Encouraged by participants’ positive feedback, plans are currently being developed to expand the camp and make it part of a larger project for young athletes in the future.

“As a brand, it is our vision to go beyond the traditional scope of sponsorship and offer the athletes we partner with real-life development opportunities, too,” said Niklas Bühner, Athlete Partnership Manager at On. “The On Youth Camp is a natural extension of this approach. It gives an even younger generation of athletes guidance on their development path and recourse to pursue their dream of becoming a professional athlete.”

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