Weger: “It is good to have no plans for a while”

After a full life made of training plans, Olympic cycles and an endless chase of the perfect combination of physical and mental shape, Benjamin Weger retired with no concrete plans for his future and enjoying his sense of freedom to the fullest. Switzerland’s best male biathlete in the past decade came to the decision to hang up the rifle after reaching the elusive podium he had been chasing for eight seasons after his first ones: he felt his goals were reached and it was time to move on. We caught up with him and on a break from his current activity, he opened up about his past, present and future.

“At the moment I am working on renovating a type of an old farmhouse with my father,” he explained with an excited tone, showing his passion for this current work: “We are turning it into a house. It is good to be doing something with him, something practical and that keeps me active.

It is a big change from the training intensity or building an aerobic base for the winter to come.

"It's a different life, you know, it's not training but in the evening you are tired. But then, you see what you did with your hands. Probably that's the biggest difference with biathlon, when you're just tired all summer and then you only see something in winter!

The comparison between this new, practical life he is experiencing and the long-lived life as an athlete is very clear to Weger, who is not missing, but neither disavowing, the years as a biathlete.

In biathlon, if you start in May then everything is so far away, and you only start to see something from your work after a long while. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it and it was the perfect time to have this life for 15 years or even more, but it was time to do something different in life. It's nice to wake up in the morning and know that I don't have to train, or I don't have to do this or this. It is good to be free and get to live a little bit. It’s nice”.

To quit a lifelong work and passion is not an easy step to take. However, the 5-time podium-finisher came to it with no haste nor struggles.

The decision to stop did not come from one day to the other. I didn't wake up in the morning and said ‘oh no, it’s time to quit’. It was something that developed over a long time, and I remember when I first thought about it after the World Championships in Antholz, in 2020. Back then I had had a pretty bad season and at that time I said ‘no I'm not ready yet’. So, I stopped my season and made a little bit longer break; when I started again with the training everything was fine. The following winter, the results were pretty good, when I finally made the podium again, eight years after the last time”.

It was January 2021, when in the mass start of Oberhof, Weger shot the perfect 20/20 to claim a fabulous third place.

Somehow for me the circle closed there: It was the result I had been working for the previous eight/nine years and I felt that it was enough. So, I decided that the following season would be my last and all summer I trained with this certainty in my mind”.

The Swiss knows, however, that sooner or later, he will have to figure what to do in life – “biathlon didn’t make me rich”, he joked with us - but after many years spent following plans, he is enjoying having none for a while. However, the future will most likely see him around biathlon.

I don't have a plan, yet. We will finish the house and hopefully we will be done by the beginning of winter. Maybe I will start with the coach education then. It is something that I want to do, and I know I will do at some point, just not sure when. First, I want to finish building the house and then maybe do some traveling and then some of my life is getting more serious, but not yet.

I want to stay in biathlon or in sport. Being a coach would be one option, but there might be some others. For sure I will do something close to biathlon and then there's the fishing, my other great passion!

Having undoubtedly contributed to bring Switzerland to the map of biathlon with his successes, Weger is looking forward to the first time of the BMW IBU World Cup and IBU World Championships in Lenzerheide in 2023 and 2025. However, this is not driving him to rush to a coaching career to get there behind the scope.

I think that's a bit too early. If I feel to become a coach, then I will start with the young kids, maybe in a sports school. I don’t want to stop today and suddenly being the coach of my sport buddies tomorrow. Knowing everything about them and suddenly being their boss… I don’t think it would be the right way. I want to start from the base and work my way up over the years”.

But we will see each other around, probably in Lenzerheide, but I will be there as a fan, for now”.

And we are looking forward to seeing Weger again, welcoming us to the biathlon stadium he indirectly helped becoming a centre of our sport.

Photo: IBU Pool Photographers

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