In this series of articles we meet, recognise and celebrate some of the many members of the hockey community – administrators, officials, players – who are at the frontline in the fight to contain and stop Corona Virus. Our ‘Excellent Eight’ featured in this series represent the thousands of people from the European hockey family putting themselves and their health on the line at this unprecedented time.
Germany’s Martin Häner is a gold medal-winning double Olympian [London 2012 – gold; Rio 2016] and has been a lynchpin of the national team since 2005. Right now, however, the defender is facing an entirely different type of challenge.
Martin has been a qualified doctor for two years, passing his finals in April 2018. He is now a practising orthopaedic surgeon, combining long hours of medical work with his equally intense hockey training and competition – with both the national team and his club side Berliner HC.
But hockey and orthopaedic surgery have been set aside as doctors from all disciplines are being called into the battle to contain and prevent Corona Virus. “For me and my colleagues, everyday life as an orthopedist and trauma surgeon has changed a lot,” says Martin.
“We are currently being trained in the care of internal medicine patients and in the care of Corona Virus patients. We are also active in the intensive care unit. Our department usually has four operating rooms every day. This has now been reduced to only one operating room, only absolute traumatological emergencies are being operated at the moment so that space is made for patients who have been infected with the Corona Virus and need to be treated in the hospital.”
Martin says, in Germany, the hope is that measures being put in place will slow the spread of the disease before it hits the sort of death toll suffered by Italy and Spain. But, he adds, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how bad it will get in the country before the disease is brought under control.
The situation and Martin’s first-hand experience of treating Corona patients have made him reflect upon sport and its place in society. “Through competitive sports, I have learned to deal with pressure and new situations. And physical fitness is also an advantage if the necessary working hours increase significantly.
“But, this also definitely shows me that while sport is very important, other things, such as health, should be in the foreground and everyone should be thankful for their health.”
And the German captain has this advice for everyone to floor in the next few weeks: “Stay at home. That is how you can help people in hospitals and other essential professions do their job as well as possible. We do not want to risk people getting sick unnecessarily. It only puts an immense strain on the already difficult situation.”