Dubai: With each passing year, Swiss athlete Marcel Hug is finding it increasingly tough to find the ideal balance in his life. Now 33, the Paralympian from Switzerland competing in the T54 wheelchair racing events, is also a world-class marathon athlete winning several top wheelchair marathons all over the world, including Boston (four times), New York City (three times) and Berlin and London (twice each).
But now, over a period of time, Hug is finding it tough to balance and excel in both careers. “Considering my philosophy of total focus on one thing at a time, it is getting tough to do well in both — Para Athletics and the marathons,” Hug told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships that will conclude in Dubai on Friday night.
“My normal thing is to take one step at a time. But since the past few years I’ve managed to juggle both and with quite some success. With each passing season I feel I need to have a good balance between training and recovery and between racing and life,” he added.
Nicknamed ‘The Silver Bullet’, Hug made his Paralympic debut for Switzerland with two bronze medals in Athens 2004. Four years later, he returned totally disappointed from Beijing after failing to make a single podium. “That was when I decided I wanted to be a professional athlete. So I stopped working and concentrated only on training,” Hug said.
The success was instant as by 2010, the Swiss set four world records in four days, and then a year later at the World Championships he won a gold in the 10,000m and four silver medals — losing the gold in three of these events to long-term rival David Weir. Their rivalry continued at the 2012 London Games where Hug won two silvers, and then at the 2013 World Championships, he dominated the field while winning five golds and a silver.
At the last Paralympic Games in Rio, Hug was clearly the most consistent in the T54 category while winning two gold and two silver medals. “I really enjoy the challenges that come along the way, be it as a para athlete or as a marathon racer,” Hug said.
“The goal of course, is to ensure I am giving off my best all the time. There can be no compromise on that.”
Later on Wednesday, Hug was pipped at the post in the men’s 5000m T54 into second place by gold medallist Prawat Wahoram of Thailand, while China’s Yong Zhang came in third. After Dubai. Hug will travel to Tokyo for this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon and then return for a short break over the Christmas season before starting his preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
“It would have been good to sign off with a gold from here,” Hug said. “But I know I am on the right path for the time being.”