Interview with Gregory Carigiet: “Give it your all and you won’t have any regrets”

Swiss luger Grégory Carigiet, who took part in the 2014 Games in Sochi, has since enjoyed a great professional career. Based on this experience, he is keen to serve as an athlete role model for the young participants at the YOG Lausanne 2020, with numerous pieces of advice for life on and off the field of play!

Tell us about your Olympic experience…

Well, I think I should talk about my experience generally first! I chose to do luge. And it’s difficult for a luger to qualify for the Games. It’s not one of the biggest sports. So it was quite tough to compete against all those specialists internationally and get the results I needed to achieve my goal. I finished my studies, then I worked full time. I did my eight hours, and then went and trained after that. I didn’t earn anything from luging. I spent what I earned on my sport, my physical training, and my equipment. All my money went on that. My first attempt to qualify was for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and I didn’t succeed. For the Swiss NOC, the rule was to be in the top 10 of the world ranking, and I was something like 13th.

Then I tried again for the Games in 2014, and that time I succeeded. It was a real accomplishment. I’d done it. Realising that I was finally going to be an Olympian and a member of the Swiss team felt like a real accomplishment. It’s one of the greatest experiences, and that’s true of your work and your private life: if you achieve your goal, it’s a great feeling. Working hard and finally getting where you want to be is fantastic.

Gregory Carigiet Lausanne 2020

A goal achieved, but what else?

I didn’t go to Sochi just to take part, but to do the best I could and achieve the best possible result. To represent my country and be a good athlete. That didn’t go as I’d hoped, and I placed 12th. I’d prepared as best I could; I had very good people around me; but things don’t depend just on you. I hadn’t achieved my objective of finishing in the top eight. I had to be content with what I’d got, with having given all I had to get there. So what I learnt is that the important thing is not just reaching a certain level, it’s being at peace with yourself. On a given day, you’ve given it your all, and the result is what it is. But I’d done my very best and couldn’t have given any more. So I was at peace with myself.

Based on this experience, what message do you have for young athletes?

Any young athlete can think that they can be number one. That may be possible, I don’t know; but they shouldn’t feel sad if they don’t make it onto the podium but they know that, on the day itself, they did all they could, if they know that they’d given everything in their preparation. Sometimes you have to be happy with what you’ve learned on the way, knowing that you’ve given it your all. The result is immaterial, as you’ve worked towards what you wanted to do, and you’ve not been able to influence the result as much as you would’ve liked. You’re a young athlete: everything you do in sport will take you further in life. It’s a life experience that nobody can take away from you. You develop your personality in a way that is not possible for someone who isn’t an athlete. You learn to deal with failure and success, to improve, to contribute, to commit to something. If I look at a 20-year-old man or woman, the one who is an athlete is much more developed. Sport is a school of life.

Olympic Channel Video: luge-sport-explainer-lausanne-2020

How do you see your job as an athlete role model?

I want to be someone the young athletes can trust if they want to know what a professional athlete looks like, and what you feel when you’re at the Olympic Games. And I also want to take a coaching approach so that I can pass on my experience. My career has led me to become a head-hunter, a project manager and a recruitment systems business consultant, and I travel all over Europe. All the qualities I developed in my sports career I now successfully use in my daily business life. I also want to talk about that: what happens after sport? Don’t be afraid! Take all you can, grow and learn through sport, and everything you learn now, all the qualities you acquire will be useful to you afterwards. It’s all good stuff!

Have you stayed involved in luging?

Not really; I’ve moved away from luging. But I’m a testing agent for Antidoping Switzerland. All the country’s athletes are tested, and I carry out these tests. It’s important to me. Contribute to the results, be a member of a team, but stay clean. Don’t succumb to the pressure. Learn to be successful by being mentally strong, and don’t do it using unfair means.

See you next January!

I’m keen to start my work as an athlete role model during the YOG in Lausanne. To see these young athletes, to see their efforts, their dedication, their concentration. As I don’t do high-level sport any more, it will be great to be with the athletes again, to help them and give them tips. I’ll be in St Moritz, on “my” luge and bobsleigh track, where nobody could beat me. So I will be able to offer technical advice: How do you steer? How do you find the right line to be as fast as possible? If you like speed, technique and challenges, luging is for you!

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