As achievements go, what Markus Weise pulled off in Beijing was quite magnificent. After leading Germany’s women to the gold medal in Athens four years he followed it up with an almost unthinkable triumph – gold with the German men.
By Cathy Harris
Ric Charlesworth won back-to-back gold medals with the Hockeyroos in 1996 and 2000 but Weise displayed his enormous leadership skills by capturing the biggest prize of all with both men and women.
This most likeable and personable coach was born and brought up in Mannheim, a city in the Rhine Valley in south-western Germany. He obtained a degree in Business Administration at the local university and played most of his career as a midfielder in the first and second division. During a stint in Scotland he also played an outdoor season for Edinburgh CS and represented MIM Edinburgh at indoors.
Just days before leaving for Beijing he married former international Britta von Livonius from Berliner HC and a member of the 2007 European championship winning team. The couple live in Hamburg where Weise is currently negotiating a new contract with the DHB.
Could life get any better for you?
Absolutely, my wife Britta and I are expecting 'the next generation'
How do you describe the unique achievement of coaching two different teams to successive gold medals?
It is the same result with two totally different stories behind the scenes. The win with the women was a total surprise, a sort of mission impossible, facing the super power Netherlands in the final. The job was done with a mixture of pure will power, a total defence concept and readiness to sting occasionally if possible.
When we finally achieved the big goal it was a bit like a fairy tale coming true. With the boys it was completely different. Even though we failed to qualify directly for Beijing, we were always among the favourites. And, we wanted to win the gold medal.
By overcoming a few obstacles on the way we picked up pace in the second half of the tournament. This plus our mental stability made the difference. And to set up a big task and finally achieve your goals is quite different from a fairy tale.
How did the feeling compare when the men as opposed to the women 4 years ago?
Both titles, both achievements felt the same: pure dead brilliant
Did you ever think it was possible?
Of course, anything is possible. It is a question of talent, huge piles of homework and mental preparation. During the tournament however I very rarely allowed myself to think about the final result, I rather focused on the next jobs that had to be done.
When Germany lost to Belgium in Manchester how did you feel and how did you pick the team up after failing to qualify automatically?
I felt really bad, realising that at the end of the day it was me who was responsible for the result, even though the players stated it was their responsibility. We had some pain causing analysis after the European Championship, the players, myself, and the whole team, players and staff together.
These talks were open and honest, leading to a new culture in the whole team. So instead of playing as the world champions we decided to just play the game again. There was a different attitude among the whole group and this became obvious during the very first camp after the Europeans. In that camp I sensed that we were back on the right track again. And the Champions Trophy in 2007 in Kuala Lumpur confirmed my feelings.
What are the special qualities of the men’s team?
There are outstanding individuals in my team regarding character and skills, we have a good corner and a good corner defence. The group has the ability to focus on the important jobs, no matter what the situation in the tournament was like. And it has the ability to grow together building a very solid unit.
Did you always believe it was possible to win gold and when did you really believe it?
Yes, I always believed it was possible to win gold in Beijing, but I really believed it when Christopher Zeller blocked the last Spanish pass with 11 seconds left on the clock.
What’s next for Markus Weise?
Work, work, work and a lot of fun, as I enjoy what I do very much.
What’s the secret of your success?
Secret? Life's an open book, all we have to do is read...
What do you do to relax?
Play or train chess, watch grandmaster games on the internet, read books, listen to music, go for a round of golf (which is not so relaxing when my hitting is bad...)
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Neal Stephenson's 'The Baroque Cycle', a trilogy. Next year in Jerusalem, by André Kaminski.
Who are the best hockey players (men and women) you’ve ever coached/watched?
Michael Peter, Stefan Blöcher, Taco van den Honert, Shabaz, just to name a few classics, there are far too many I have seen and coached...
What’s your favourite food and which celebrities alive or dead would you invite for dinner?
My mom’s cheese cake. (British rock musician) Sting.
What did your parents teach you that you always remember?
How to cope with difficult circumstances.
What was the motto of the German team in Beijing?
As a unit win Gold!