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Have you ever dreamed of taking part in the Olympic Games? I certainly have. Imagine you would have the chance to compete with and against some of the world’s best athletes…

At the adidas Innovation Challenge I was one of four lucky adidas employees who were selected to get a glimpse behind the scenes, but also taking actively part in this event. It was awesome!

The setting

16 professional athletes, four adidas employees and one obstacle course spiced up by a fantastic crowd of fans: These were the ingredients of a competition that was held at the adidas innovation lab in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Each team consisted of one adidas employee and four pro athletes which had to surpass the obstacle course as a relay race.

The stage is set for an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The stage is set for an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The purpose was to experience adidas innovations and product technologies under various circumstances – plus having lots of fun before, during and after the competition.

The obstacles were pretty demanding: from quickly running around moving punching bags through a hurdles lane, one shooting stand, elastic band webs to a final med ball sprint… All athletes are specialists in their sports discipline, but this challenge really required very versatile skills like speed, flexibility and concentration.

The athletes

Surrounded by professional athletes: From left to right, Tobias Angerer (skiing), Miriam Gössner (biathlon), myself, Florian Hill (climbing) and Martin Schmitt (ski jumping).

Surrounded by professional athletes: From left to right, Tobias Angerer (skiing), Miriam Gössner (biathlon), myself, Florian Hill (climbing) and Martin Schmitt (ski jumping).

Amongst the athletes were German pros like football goalkeeper René Adler and the winter sport stars like Tobias Angerer or Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle. In my team there were two Olympic gold medalists – one from the winter games 2002 (ski jumper Martin Schmitt) and one from the summer games 2008 (pentathlete Lena Schöneborn), plus a German national football player (Heiko Westermann) and an Olympic silver medalist from 2010 (luger David Möller).

Despite of the competition character, the atmosphere amongst the athletes was very relaxed. During a break in between the races, everyone was trying to score a penalty shot against goalkeeper René Adler. I also tried my luck, but missed the shot – René seemed to know exactly where I was aiming at even before I kicked.

Everyone took pictures together and the athletes seemed to enjoy this unique encounter. So did I – because I was not only a spectator behind the scenes, but rather could I take the stage at the same time. I felt quite ready to compete as I make use of the company’s own “Adi Dassler Stadium” track almost every lunch break to do sports with some colleagues and friends.

The race

When I saw there were cameras everywhere I always tried to look very casual – the athletes are of course used to such a media exposure. Therefore, I was a little nervous before the race began, but shake hands with Heiko Westermann and Martin Schmitt quickly made me feel part of the world-class team. I was impressed how serious the athletes took this event: in spite of the wet and cold conditions they were running, jumping and shooting as fast as they could.

German ski jumper Martin Schmitt mastering the elastic band web.

German ski jumper Martin Schmitt mastering the elastic band web.

I was very delighted, because I could contribute the fastest lap to our team effort. In the qualifying round I shot five out of five plates. I heard the crowd cheer each time I hit the target right into the center… In the end our team made it into the final round.

Just before the final was about to commence, a thrilling soundtrack was played to bring the fans and us into the right mood. Now it was show time.

But this time, the opposing team was leading by an unreachable distance and I was the one to finish the relay. I literally stumbled over the hurdles and plunged onto the shooting stand in order to gain some battleground. In the end, I could not completely close the gap, and I had to learn that between Silver and Gold there are sometimes just a few seconds… Of course, we were disappointed. But the fact that I was part of such a great team at such a special event compensated for the “loss”.

The reward

The winning team definitely deserved some attractive prizes. Biathletes Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Simon Schempp, footballer René Adler, javelin thrower Linda Stahl and adidas employee Richard Veit won tickets for the German football cup final 2013. Simon Schempp and Richard Veit also won a trip to Italy for being the fastest individual athlete and employee.

The happy winners of the adidas Innovation Challenge.

The happy winners of the adidas Innovation Challenge.

After the race I scented the turf clung to my outfit. I could smell I accomplished something that was very unique – the adidas Innovation Challenge was beyond doubt an once-in-a-lifetime experience.