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Sebastian Frey: Schafft er die Olympia-Qualifikation bei der Vienna Track Night?
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Sebastian Frey: Will he qualify for the Olympics at the Vienna Track Night?

Olympians and local running clubs, festival atmosphere and world-class races. At the Vienna Track Night, anything is possible, from personal bests to Olympic standards. Austria's hopeful Sebastian Frey also has a score to settle.

Words: Sven Rudolph
Photos: Florian Kurrasch and On

With "The Night of 10,000m PB's" in London, On has kicked off the second year of its On Track Night Series. By creating a lively festival atmosphere that puts the audience at the centre and inspires athletes - from amateurs to professionals - to perform at their best, On aims to reinterpret the rules, attract spectators and reshape track culture. The next track event will take place on June 22nd in Vienna: Track Night Vienna. This year, things are set to be even faster. The six Olympic qualifying heats over the distances of 800m, 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m ensure extremely strong start lists. An ideal opportunity to run a last-minute qualifying time for Paris.

Sebastian Frey has also recognized this opportunity. The local hero and professional runner still has a score to settle with the Vienna Track Night. We visited the Austrian middle and long distance runner from Vienna during his training camp in St. Moritz.

From children's running discovery to professional

Through a chance participation in the children's run of the Wachau Marathon in 2014, his talent was discovered and his journey into the world of running began. A turning point in his career was in 2022 when he joined the On Athletics Club (OAC) Europe. Before that, he had never really thought about becoming a professional. In the interview, he talked about the biggest changes in his life since that step: "Everything has just become more professional and I have learned a lot about how to become a better runner, both on and off the track," said Sebi. The support from On was crucial to his development, and he can now concentrate 100% on the sport, "which suits him very well."

Life as a professional athlete has many advantages, as Sebastian points out. The opportunity to see beautiful places, travel and get to know other cultures are the best aspects of this lifestyle for him. He dreams of competing in the Olympic Games one day, but remains realistic and does not want to commit himself. "If it comes, it comes," he said of the chances of competing in the Games in Paris in 2024 or Los Angeles in 2028.

Learn from the best and focus on regeneration

After his impressive performance over 5,000m in 2022 (13:39), in which he set an Austrian U23 record, Sebastian was contacted by On. He had the opportunity to join either as an individual athlete or the OAC team. After a two-week stay in St. Moritz, where he got to know his teammates and coach better, he decided to join the OAC team.

Sebastian stresses the importance of learning from his teammates. "I think you can learn a lot from everyone," he said. He found the lessons he learned about recovery and focusing on the sport particularly valuable. He now pays more attention to getting enough sleep - an average of eight to nine hours a night, plus an extra nap in the afternoon.

On the way to new personal bests and Paris?

The new routines and training in a team have taken Sebastian's performance to a new level. With personal bests of 7:44 minutes over 3000 meters and 13:24 minutes over 5000 meters indoors at the beginning of the year, as well as two titles at the Balkan Championships, Sebastian is looking forward to participating again in Vienna. "It's very cool to be there again because the organizer is the son of my former coach. It just has a personal touch," he says.

Sebastian perfectly embodies what On wants to achieve with the Track Nights: the connection between local running communities and top performances. "Last year it was incredible, there were over 15 of my friends there, as well as family and relatives," enthuses Sebastian. Many of his friends from school and university who otherwise have nothing to do with athletics were enthusiastic about the atmosphere and have announced that they will be taking part again this year. Perhaps this time in Vienna he will manage to achieve the qualifying time for the Olympics and thus open a new chapter in his career.

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