NEW DELHI: An Olympic gold medallist and a physician rolled into one, Germany‘s hockey ace Martin Haner by no means stopped ‘defending’ even when sports activities got here to a halt for shut to 6 months. The distinction was that as a substitute of a hockey stick in hand in opposition to the converging opposition gamers, he wielded the stethoscope in his nation’s battle in opposition to the coronavirus.
In European sports activities tradition, gamers do not compromise on teachers for sports activities, perhaps as a result of the sport isn’t as skilled because it has these days turn out to be in India — which is why reaching the extent Haner has attained turns into tougher and subsequently extra commendable.
However what he encountered over the past 5 months, when he switched from the operation theatre as an orthopedic surgeon to the intensive care unit, was unprecedented for medical professionals world over. Having stated that, watching the pandemic unfold from shut quarters, Haner is proud that Germany reacted in a greater approach in comparison with the opposite nations.
Final month, the 32-year-old Haner took his physician’s coat off to put on his Germany jersey when worldwide hockey made a return after a 199-day break due to the pandemic. The Germans hosted world champions Belgium for a two-match FIH Professional League tie in Dusseldorf.
Germany had been trounced 1-6 within the opening match, whereas they managed a shootout win within the second after holding the Crimson Lions to a 1-1 draw within the regulation interval.
Haner admits that he was each excited and a little bit apprehensive to play whereas the Covid-19 pandemic stays prevalent, and the physician caught his neck out to confess that travelling longer distances to play hockey presents a better “danger of an infection”. The Berliner HC defender, although, is wanting ahead to the Olympics in 2021, for which he has prolonged his hockey profession by a 12 months.

(Motion from the FIH Professional League tie between Germany and Belgium held in September 2020)
In an unique interview with Timesofindia.com, the German veteran opened up each as a physician and as a participant in these unprecedented occasions.
Excerpts…
Germany and Belgium had been the primary groups to renew worldwide hockey whereas the coronavirus continues to be a pandemic. Take us by means of all that went into getting the group again collectively once more to coach after which these two match-days after months.
It was an odd feeling to get again along with the nationwide group after such a very long time. We’ve not had any coaching classes collectively since February. Earlier than we met, after all, all of the gamers and workers had been examined for Covid-19 (all had been unfavourable). We had been very remoted within the lodge and had our personal lodge hall. There have been clear agreements on hygiene and we had been solely allowed to go away the lodge to play hockey.
Earlier than the matches in opposition to Belgium happened, we had been examined once more 48 hours earlier than the sport (all unfavourable) and the video games had been performed with out spectators. Since we’re nonetheless in the course of the pandemic, it was an odd feeling; however alternatively, it was additionally good to have the ability to play worldwide matches once more after such a very long time.
Was there nonetheless some worry someplace at the back of the gamers’ minds?
Our medical division and our supervisor have made all of the preparations for our coaching camp and knowledgeable us about all of the particular options, in order that we as skilled gamers didn’t must take any fears. The whole lot was very nicely deliberate and by chance there have been no constructive instances.
You’re a physician as nicely. How do you analyse the return of sports activities, particularly worldwide hockey, amid this pandemic? Does the virus nonetheless pose severe threats to sportspersons?
I feel this query must be seen in a really differentiated approach. Out of doors sports activities don’t appear to be a very excessive danger of Covid-19 an infection. However longer journeys are mandatory each within the German Bundesliga and much more so in worldwide tournaments. The chance of an infection is definitely a lot better. After all, as a physician and a household man, I’ve at the back of my thoughts that I can infect myself after which presumably infect different individuals. That is why we attempt to adhere to all the rules wherever potential, however I’m very skeptical about lengthy journeys within the present scenario

(Martin Haner, standing excessive proper, with the Germany group – Fb photograph)
Coming to the matches in opposition to Belgium, your group turned it round after a below-par outing within the first match to salvage a combating draw within the second, earlier than successful it within the shootout. How satisfying had been your first aggressive days in nearly six months?
It was very good, however the euphoria was nonetheless subdued for me as a result of sadly the top of the pandemic isn’t but in sight and we do not know the way lengthy we are able to play. Within the first recreation in opposition to Belgium, we performed three of 4 quarters nicely, and the outcome (1-6) definitely would not mirror the sport. However, after all, it was good to finish our first journey collectively within the second recreation with a win after shootout.
The Professional League goes to run as much as the door of the Olympics in Tokyo. What are Germany’s plans, who’ve slipped out of the highest 5 in FIH rankings?
In the intervening time, the world rating is definitely not our most important focus. We wish to attempt to put together as greatest we are able to for the Olympic Video games subsequent 12 months below the present circumstances, and the Professional League is, after all, extraordinarily necessary in improvement, as you’re solely challenged there in opposition to the very best groups on the planet.
There have been some talks round you ending your hockey profession however I learn someplace that you could be lengthen it by an 12 months to play the Tokyo Video games. What’s your present mind-set on that?
My plan was to finish my hockey profession after the Olympics and focus absolutely on my household and my job as a physician. Because of the postponement, every thing has now shifted by a 12 months and I believed for a very long time whether or not I ought to proceed. After speaking to my spouse and my boss at work, I acquired their assist in doing sports activities for one more 12 months, for which I’m very grateful.
Going again just a few months, how did your life as an orthopedic surgeon change throughout these occasions of a viral pandemic that required nearly all of the medical doctors to take care of Covid-19 sufferers?
I work as an orthopedist in an operational space. Attributable to Covid-19, non-vital operations had been banned, in order that hastily this was utterly eradicated. Then I switched to the intensive care unit. Happily, we in Germany have the scenario below management comparatively nicely in comparison with different nations, and we by no means had greater than 5-6 Covid-19 sufferers in our intensive care unit. However, after all, it was and is a totally completely different space of exercise (in my medical career) than ordinary.
Did your expertise as a sportsperson assist you take care of the state of unprecedented emergency contained in the ICU?
To be trustworthy, it was by no means as dangerous in our clinic as once you watched photos from Italy or Spain on the tv. We had been very nicely ready.



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