Thirty-four-year-old Dominik Albrecht led Germany’s campaign to claim the remaining spot for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, showcasing his powerful spikes that merited an MVP award at the conclusion of Paralympic Games Men’s Qualification Tournament in Duisburg.
Albrecht talked to World ParaVolley and shared his outlook on his second Parlaympic Games appearance.
What are you excited about most regarding the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?
“I think these Paralympic Games will be very special because of the coronavirus situation. All things considered, I hope for good and fair sport, something we had during this tournament in Germany. All nations were fair throughout the tournament. And may the best team win.”
How does it feel to qualify for your second Paralympic Games?
“It’s a great feeling. It’s difficult to explain it, but in these first moments, I feel crazy and with different positive emotions. I’m quiet inside myself to realise it all. It’s just a great feeling. This time I worked a lot harder than I did in 2016 because my interest is not to have a big trophy but to have a great result together with my team. We had an amazing time in this tournament.”
What’s your mindset going to be going into your second Games?
“It’s different, now that I understand what kind of big tournament is waiting for us. Before I was so surprised when I walked into the Paralympic Village and saw everything: How many athletes were there, how many people were there in the same place. Maybe this time it won’t be so crazy because of COVID.
“I think I will be more relaxed now and have more focus on my game. I now know how I can better prepare myself – easier, relaxed with more focus. I hope for a very good Games for my team. I think we were in a bad position during the Games in Rio after the bronze medal in London. I hope we can go for a spot with the best five teams, maybe even a medal.”
How did you get into sitting volleyball?
“It’s a long story. I started with disabled sport in 2003, when I was 16. I didn’t start with sitting volleyball, but it was a sport called sitball in Germany, the rules are a little bit different. After this I was in the first team of the region Nordrhein-Westfalen. At that time, we had youth national teams in sitting volleyball. The coach was searching within the high-level teams in sitball for players. Then I received my first invitation to sitting volleyball training camp.”
Who inspired or encouraged you to become one of the best in your sport?
“Many players like Siegmund Soicke, who is one of the 16 players in our team. At the moment he is one of the oldest active players in our club team but also in the national team. He supports me always in every training. He always prepares me to have the mindset. Our old captain who is also playing with us now, Jürgen Schrapp, is also one of my best supporters. Alexander Schiffler, whom I always have a great experiences with in every tournament and training camp, is one of my best friends.
“I made one of the biggest steps in my career during the pandemic. It was easier to stay focused on the sport because there were no other options. I got closer to a lot of people, spoke to my girlfriend every day about sitting volleyball. She is a source of my inspiration and my best supporter to have a positive mindset.”
What’s the best thing about being a Paralympian?
“It is important for me to play together with my team in all these tournaments. Being a Paralympic athlete means that I can share this with my team. This is the biggest, highest and strongest feeling for me. Things are easier when you always have support from different people. Your club also has an easier way to give you support. The most important for me are my team and my family.”
How will you use this platform to inspire younger kids with disability to get into sitting volleyball?
“This is one of the most important topics inn Germany as well as other countries. It’s not easy to find these children and you have to be resourceful and spend some time to be able to do this. For me, sitting volleyball is one of the best sports you can socialize. It would be great to have a fast and easy inclusion of children with disability because they can easily adapt to the older athletes. Doing something together gets you out of that loneliness in your situation. By promoting sitting volleyball as a social sport, it can easily change lives of these young people who have disability.”