Nov 30, 2012

Interview with German hockey star Oliver Korn

At 28, Oliver Korn is considered as one of the reasons of Germany winning a 2nd Gold medal in the Olympics. Enforcing midfielder, Korn has recently signed up for Hockey India League. He has scored 26 goals in 130 matches played for Germany and has been part of teams which has won Champions Trophy in 2007. I recently had an opportunity to talk to him about his hockey life. Read the full interview here:

Two back to back Gold medals in the Olympics, how does it feel to win biggest hockey tournament twice n a row?
Two time Gold medal winner Oliver korn
Winning one Gold medal in the Olympics is a big feat but winning it twice is absolutely amazing. Winning the Gold medal in the Olympics is the biggest title a player can achieve in his life and I am really proud I have won it twice. It was three wonderful weeks in London and it took us a while to realize that we did it again.

This time around, you were not the favorites to win the Gold as many backed Australia so how did you guys make it possible?
Australia could have been the favorites among hockey fans to win the Gold in the London2012 but we knew that we have strong and experienced team and belief that we could beat anyone to win the Gold. No doubt the teams like Australia and Netherlands give you tough challenge so it was possibility that we could lose against them but it was our focus that got us through. The coach had drilled the winning attitude among us along with concentration and a bit of luck we were able to beat the top teams and win Gold.

What was so special about this team?
The teams that played in Beijing Olympics and London Olympics were totally different. Although the team that played in the London was very young in age with but, we had a lot of very experienced and talented players. The main reason of our success was our focus.
We took one game at a time and focused really hard on it. And it was not just the players, the supporting staffs (coaches and physiotherapist) were also focused on our target and this strategy paid dividends and rest is history.

Going on a personal level, how you got hooked with hockey
My grandfather was the one who brought hockey in the family. I started really young, at the age of 5 and it was not hockey but football. I used to attend training sessions over there before my mother’s friend took me for a hockey training session at Düsseldorfer Hockey Club. One hockey training session and I never went to soccer training again. The love with hockey continued since that day. Apart from playing I train a kid’s team of my new cup Club de Campo twice a week before we train ourselves.

Who was your mentor who helped you reach the level you are today?
My former coach in Düsseldorf, Volker Fried, (captain of the 1992 gold team of Germany) had a great influence on my career. I worked with him for 10 years and he helped me a lot in becoming a player I am today.

So, what is hockey like in Germany, the professionalism, domestic structure, league structure etc?
There are 12 teams in the German “Hockeyliga”. The teams come from cities all over the country (Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Mannheim, etc.) Every team has 22 games and after this round the first four teams make it to the Final Four with semi-final and final.
Unfortunately there are not many people watching the games. This (the attendance) is much better in India.

How was your experience in playing in EHL, Europe’s biggest hockey competition.
Playing against the best teams in Europe, with the best players and a lot of spectators is a always a great challenge and a lot of fun. Winning the EHL with Uhlenhorster Hockey Club last year was one of the best things I ever achieved in hockey. In search of new challenge, I moved to Club de Campo where the first season was bit difficult and we struggled a bit. It turned around after a great win Uhlenhorst Mülheim we were very happy to go through to KO16.

What is the next target for Oliver Korn?
On the club level, the first target is to play a great season with Club de Campo in the Spanish league and EHL. With the German national team, first target is upcoming Champions Trophy. We would like to beat Australia and break their record of winning back to back Champions Trophy victory. With young team, we really want to perform well and win Champions Trophy in Melbourne. We hope to take our Olympics form in the Champions Trophy and win the tournament.

Your favorite hockey player.
Christoph Eimer is the best midfielder I have ever played with. He always made tough things look very simple and one of the most intelligent player hockey has ever produced. From current players I would say Jamie Dwyer. It is always a pleasure to watch him when he’s on the field.

Let’s shift some focus towards India. India was once a major powerhouse in hockey but today the game is very bad condition. What could be the reason?
Oliver Korn in action against India
I think India has got really good players and despite the score line at the end it´s never easy to beat the Indian team. The match we played against India in the Olympics was really tough one. I guess the main problem with the Indian team is their consistency. At the moment they are unable to manage to play 7 good games during a major tournament.

You have played against India, what are the strong and weak points of the Indian team
India’s attacking play is well known all over the world and it is very difficult to defend against India. India has many skilled players and you have to be very concentrated to keep them from scoring. On the other hand, I think their defense is not as good as their offense. Bit more focus on defense, the Indian team can become real force in the world hockey

Also, you have joined Hockey India League, what are your expectations from this tournament.
I am expecting huge crowds in the stadium. We do not get many fans in the Germany. Hockey in India is much bigger than in Germany and I´m always love playing in front of huge crowd and it’s great that Hockey India is providing with such a great tournament that will help us to showcase our talent in front of the millions of Indian hockey fans.

What does India require to reach back to the top and compete against Germany and Australia
Instead of changing their style of play and following other styles of hockey, they definitely keep playing their own style of hockey. Also they should try to be more consistent during a tournament.

What advice would you like to give to the young and upcoming hockey players
Always keep on believing in your dreams. Work hard and enjoy what you are doing.

Any message of the fans
The hockey fans in India are amazing!! I am really excited playing in front of this huge, enthusiastic crowd.

Can´t wait for the start of HIL in January. See you guys in India.

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