Marie-Sophie Zeidler is putting in a lot of work in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Yet, the top German rower is still up against a difficult-to-predict opponent.

Little over a month ago, the 24-year-old younger sister of two-time world champion Oliver Zeidler contracted Covid-19 for the second time. Her lung capacity was reduced to 60% at the time. She is now dealing with a loss of little more than 25%. “It’s terrifying to watch how quickly the body can break down, even if you’re fit,” Zeidler tells DW.

She battled With Covid symptoms such quick physical weariness, shortness of breath, and other unpleasantries for six months following her initial infection in October 2020 before regaining her prior fitness. Zeidler, a police officer, responds, “Sure, medicine has improved, and there are medications.

She claims that since using the anti-Covid medication, things are moving along more quickly. In order to return to her previous form more quickly and permanently, the top rower seeks to discover a solution. Zeidler, who still needs to meet the requirements for the summer event, says, “But whether there’s enough time to have a serious chance at the Olympic Games remains to be seen.”

“Even though the scientific community is learning more and more about this illness, there is no one cure for Long Covid. We’re talking about 200 different symptoms that need to be distinguished, says Wilhelm Bloch, director of the German Sport University Cologne’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Sports Medicine, to DW.

He and his colleagues are, however, coming closer to more effective strategies and cures. Yet, Bloch makes it quite clear how serious Long Covid is. The sports scientist estimates that 6% of individuals impacted are completely unable to continue participating in their sport: “There are individual examples in the post-Covid area, they are extremely dramatic.”

Patients with Long Covid frequently experience physical tiredness, including deep weakness, chronic fatigue, and a lack of motivation, making it difficult to manage daily life as usual. Marie-Sophie Zeidler had also had the experience. According to Bloch, it’s crucial to always pay attention to each patient’s specific symptoms. That is what makes treatment so difficult and occasionally confusing.

Rehab coach Hans-Peter Gierden assists Long Covid patients at TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen through the utilisation of specifically designed programmes. “Many people struggle with concentration, and some have balance issues. Gierden adds that weariness is always a factor. The key is to execute the exercises properly and avoid overwhelming the individual.

He clarifies that every class period is structured differently. “It’s possible that I blend balance and strength training workouts. Another option is a badminton lesson. Every exercise is performed in a light-to-heavy progression. You can always return to the previous workout if it becomes too much, advises Gierden. The 57-year-old utilises the so-called “Borg scale” (named after the Swedish scientist Gunnar Borg) to assess his physical condition after each workout.

Hermann-Josef Eigen tells DW, “Since I’ve begun participating in it, I’ve been feeling lot better.” The once-active amateur athlete was on the verge of being hospitalised to intensive care in April 2021 after a Covid-19 infection struck him fairly severely. “I was unable to breathe normally anymore. Nothing has ever worked for me,” the 61-year-old claims.

He couldn’t even take a few steps again for over four months. He enrolled in Hans-Peter Gierden’s rehabilitation course after his health began to recover. According to Eigen, “the style of workout made the shortness of breath evaporate into memory.” He reports that he now spends at least an hour each day performing the exercises outside of class at home. I feel even better than I did before becoming ill.

“Athletes frequently lament their inability to perform at their peak during the months following an illness. Athletes can be identified by their higher resting pulse, especially in the first three months, according to sports scientist Bloch. However, it frequently takes a few more months before everything returns to its prior level of performance.

Rower Marie-Sophie Zeidler is currently symptom-free following the majority of physical exertions after gradually increasing her workload. She was able to push herself over her physical limitations once more at a recent training camp. She didn’t suddenly sink into a physical hole until after the last day of training. Zeidler, who is ready to compete in her maiden competition since the surgery, stated, “Suddenly, nothing worked for me again.

“The strange thing about this disease is that you can never really predict how the body will respond. Everything is conceivable on a good day, but nothing at all on a poor day. She’ll just have to tolerate being startled for the time being.

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