«We are truly passionate about supporting people and culture. With this partnership, we provide a platform for visibility and exchange. This is even more important in a year where so many events were unable to take place due to the pandemic.»
Handcyclist Sandra Stöckli tells us: “I have had the full support of all partners so far. Just like Baloise, they have all asked: How are you and what will be happening next?” Swimmer Maria Ugolkova is also delighted with every partner that has continued supporting her during the pandemic: “This year has truly been incredibly difficult. As an athlete, I depend on prize money – this has now simply disappeared.” For Sabrina Jaquet, the badminton player, support has also been great and very few contracts weren’t extended. Since the prize money for badminton tournaments is not generally a lot, she is missing this aspect a little less. However, reliable partners are therefore always essential to Sabrina: “I am deeply grateful that I can extend my career for another year thanks to my sponsors and partners.” The athletes’ stories show that everyone deals differently with the challenges brought about by the pandemic. However, reliable partners are essential to everyone.
All three athletes had planned on taking part in the 2020 Olympic Games. Once it became clear in mid-March that Tokyo 2020 would be postponed and that national and international matches and competitions were being cancelled, everyday training suddenly fell away.
This is the question that Sabrina Jaquet asked herself. Tokyo 2020 was going to be the peak and end of her career. She was then going to retire from professional sport. For Sabrina, the questions arose: Do I want to continue training for another year? Do I want to take all the necessary performance tests in order to compete in Tokyo 2021? The decision was made quickly and based on instinct. But what came next? Indoor facility training wasn’t possible for two months, so she had to improvise until she could dive in with full commitment. The fact is that Sabrina loves what she does, but one thing became clear to her during the crisis: “There are more important things than sport. I learned this and was able to keep my positive attitude.”
33-year-old Sabrina Jaquet began playing badminton when she was 12. She was able to take part in the Olympic Games in London in 2012 as well as in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She took bronze in the women’s singles event at the 2017 European Championship. In addition to her career as a professional athlete, she also completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sports Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen in 2014. Now she can concentrate fully on her professional career.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Maria Ugolkova has been feeling like a fish on dry land. For Maria, who is the most successful female swimmer in Switzerland and holds over 100 records, all swim training was cancelled. “The postponement of the Olympic Games meant that the pressure was completely gone for a short while.” Training exclusively on land was thus twice as hard for her. Maria was able to start swimming again in mid-May, but still has to overcome the psychological challenge of a lack of pressure: “However, since I know that there may be competitions in December, I have to be ready. We’ll only be informed of this a few days in advance.”
The 31-year-old Russian native began swimming at two years of age. In 2005, she moved to Lugano in Switzerland with her mother when she was 16 years old. The highlights of her career have been her participation in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as winning the bronze and silver medals at the European Championships in 2018 and 2019 in Glasgow. She holds a variety of Swiss records in her disciplines (200 medley, butterfly, backstroke, front crawl). In additional to her professional career, she has a Master’s degree in Banking and Finance.
Although Sandra Stöckli had the rug pulled from beneath her feet in March, she was easily able to find motivation to keep training. As a handcyclist, she can train anywhere: “I know that I am in a privileged position because the only thing I need to keep training properly, besides resistance training, is my handbike.” Sandra set herself challenges in order to keep up her motivation. In August, Sandra undertook several pass journeys – the Stelvio Pass, Timmelsjoch and Pragel Pass – and covered just under 6,000 vertical metres and 285 kilometres. “That is an incredible amount for a handcyclist. In order to achieve this goal, I had to train hard the entire time. This kept me motivated at all times and I pushed myself to my limits.”
34-year-old Sandra Stöckli became a paraplegic after falling from a set of wall bars in 2000. Her athletic career began two years later with wheelchair racing athletics. Following an injury in 2013, she switched to cycling and took part in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. There, she managed to take eighth place in the handbike street race and took home a paralympic diploma. She lives in Rapperswil-Jona in the Canton of St. Gallen with her husband.