LYP Interview #5_ Irmgard Benusan

Irmgard Bensusan

Profession: Paralympic sprinter

Irmgard was born in South Africa and studied accounting at the University of Johannesburg. She competes for Germany now and won three silver medals in the 100, 200 and 400 metre sprints at the 2016 Summer Paralympics and won gold at the Dubai World Para Athletic Championships in Dubai 2019 (100 metres and 200 metres).

Irmgard will compete at the Paralympics in Tokio in 2021.

Irmgard started as an able-bodied athlete whilst living in South Africa. Whilst competing in a hurdle event in 2009, she tore the nerves of her right knee. This injury lead to a paralysis in her right leg below her knee. In 2014, she represented Germany at her first major international event, in the IPC Athletics European Championship.

Irmgard holds the world records of 100 metres (12.72 seconds) and 200 metres (26.15 seconds) in her starting class.

The following interview is loosely based on the questionnaire by Marcel Proust and was given to Quai7 in October 2020.


Quai7: What motivates you to achieve top performance? 

Irmgard Bensusan: I love every single bit of what I do, I love fighting for what I want, I love the sweat and tears and everything that comes with it. I don’t want to stand there one day and say: “ If I only worked or trained harder” or “ If I only gave a bit more.” I want to give my everything and know that I gave everything that I was capable of. I really don’t want the idea of “what if” to haunt me later in life.


Quai7: What is your personal vision? 

Irmgard Bensusan: My personal vision as with my goals is to make the most of what I have and what my body can do for me.

Quai7: How often do you train? 

Irmgard Bensusan: Twice a day, expect for Wednesdays and Saturdays. Sundays however I usually regenerate.

Quai7: How does a normal day in your life look like? 

Irmgard Bensusan: I wake up at 06:30, have breakfast and coffee and watch the news.  At 08:30 I start training until 10:30. Then I go back home to shower and get dressed for work. I arrive at work at +/- 11:30 and continue until 16:00 (I usually have lunch at my desk). I then rush home and get ready at about 16:30 to go to training. This continues until 19:30. I then go home, shower, cook and clean up. Afterwards I either phone a friend, read a book or watch a film.

Quai7: How do you relax? 

Irmgard Bensusan: I watch a film, read a book or even draw occasionally. I love swimming in the ocean, or hiking in nature. At times because I am so active during the week I’m very happy to just sit round and relax.

Quai7: How do you prepare mentally for a competition? 

Irmgard Bensusan: The night before my race, I run over in my head the details of the race the next day.

Quai7: Beyond technical things: what is the most relevant skill a top athlete has to develop in order to be successful? 

Irmgard Bensusan: A fighting spirit, not willing to give up even if the odds are against you.

Quai7: What can everyone learn from a top athlete like you? 

Irmgard Bensusan: I hope I set an example to others of the spirit of a fighter no matter what the odds. The worse the odds the greater the effort.

Quai7: What is perfect earthly happiness for you? 

Irmgard Bensusan: 1) Running. 2) Spending Saturday morning drinking coffee, reading the newspaper and talking to my family. 3) The experience of summer rain and thunderstorms, whilst in bed reading a book.

Quai7: What is your favourite pastime? 

Irmgard Bensusan: Time spent with my family.

Quai7: Which book is currently on your bedside table? 

Irmgard Bensusan: My brilliant friend by Ellena Ferrante.

Quai7: What qualities do you value most in other people? 

Irmgard Bensusan: Sincerity, considerateness and Intelligence.

Quai7: Which mistakes are you most likely to excuse? 

Irmgard Bensusan: Over time most of them provided they are not self-induced by dogma.

Quai7: Your favourite character in history and why?

Irmgard Bensusan: Madame Marie Curie. A strong women, who did what she loved, and she didn’t limit herself to what was expected of her by society. For instance when she wasn’t allowed to study in Poland she found another way. She was determined and a female role model.

Quai7: Your favourite writer? 

Irmgard Bensusan: Roald Dahl.

Quai7: Your favourite composer? 

Irmgard Bensusan: Classical? Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Quai7: Your motto or favourite quotation?

Irmgard Bensusan: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me’.”

Quai7: Thanks a lot, dear Irmgard!



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