Kyra (9) and Lenja (7) from Dresden will be sharing the excitement of two athletes in particular over the next few weeks when 15-year-old short track hopeful Anna Seidel and her teammate Robert Seifert from Dresden Skating Club take up position on the starting line in Sochi. Short track is a form of ice speed skating that takes place on a 111-metre track. It’s a lightning-fast and hugely thrilling sport. “It’s just incredible for a small club like ours to be able to send two skaters to the Olympics,” says coach Roger Gründel. He works with the club’s youngest members, who are aged between four and ten, including Kyra and Lenja.

Massive motivation for young fans: real live Olympic icons

Sandy Hoeft, mother of the two girls, helps Roger with coaching at the club. She accompanies the young skaters on the ice, ties shoelaces and looks after them. “It’s fantastic for the children to see at first hand that it’s possible to make it to the Olympics and that all the hard work can really pay off,” she says enthusiastically. Just like her daughters, she is passionate about the sport. “Anna’s obviously become a bit of an idol for our two girls. It’s really sweet.” Sandy Hoeft and some of the other parents organised a small farewell ceremony for Anna Seidel and Robert Seifert. The boys and girls in the advanced skating group made a placard decorated with photos and messages of congratulation plus an Olympics “power pack” containing energy bars, lucky chocolate ladybirds, invigorating herbal teas and organic chocolate. The two Olympic athletes were absolutely delighted.

Thrills and suspense at the club

The club’s Facebook page features a short video in which the young athletes send good wishes and lots of luck to their heroes. Gestures like these demonstrate the real sense of community in Saxony’s many clubs and associations. The club’s coaching staff and parents also teach the youngsters that enthusiasm and passion are essential to becoming a top-performing athlete in the future. Short track state coach Johannes Markert firmly believes that “training should be fun for the youngsters and they should enjoy coming. If that turns into something more later on, then great!” Saxony offers excellent conditions for coaching and taking part in sport. Dresden is one of five federal training centres in Saxony where up-and-coming young athletes enjoy elite training and education – with successful results.

Saxons have reached the winner’s podium 535 times

Saxony is proud of a sporting history rich in medals. Since 1896, 350 Saxon sportsmen and women have won a total of 535 medals in 31 summer and winter sports at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In Saxony’s capital, the top athletes of the future attend the special Sportoberschule and Sportgymnasium secondary schools. Nine-year-old Kyra will be going there in September and is already really looking forward to it. But now she’s concentrating on crossing her fingers as hard as she can for her fellow club members in Sochi. For the youngsters, it’s not only about winning. Asked about their wishes for Anna and Robert, they say: “We hope you have lots of fun and achieve what you set out to do, and that you don’t get injured.”