National team wrestler Felix Baldauf (28) took a new path. Now his upbringing and relationship with coach Eren Gjægtvik (50) will become a children’s book.
– This is the craziest idea we’ve ever had. This is so unreal, said Baldauf and looked at coach Gjægtvik.
Then both of them burst out laughing. A lot had happened since they met in 2004. By then, Baldauf had moved with his mother and younger brother from Germany to Kristiansund.
There’s a lot of seriousness too, because the little boy is carrying heavy luggage.
Through NRK’s series “Hodet i klemme”, Baldauf has opened up about his own mental challenges and upbringing marked by his mother’s alcohol problem.
– I felt lonely and thought that I was the only one who felt that way. Now I know better. The things you experience when you are young have consequences when you grow up, says Baldauf and using an example:
– Many children dread Christmas Eve because of their parents’ alcohol use. They are hurting and waiting for Christmas to end. They need tools to solve problems and get help.
The book should reflect challenges, but not a bit of unity, ups and downs and hope.
– It should shine that there is a lot of hope and joy, added coach Gjægtvik.
– Eren has been my trainer, but also the closest I’ve come to with a father figure and an older brother. He and my mother are the most important people to me, Baldauf explained.
The 28-year-old has now moved with his coach and wife to Kristiansund, and it is there that he will have his main base going forward apart from the national team meeting in Oslo.
First there was WC in Serbia in September, and the top five there qualified for the Olympics in Paris. Now the plan is for the book to be ready ahead of the championship.
– Currently we have secret writer and professional illustrator in this project. It will be a well-intentioned book where readers should know that while you may be in trouble, but there is still hope, said Ina Vassbotn Steinman, editor-in-chief of children and youth at Cappelen Damm.
– The best children’s books are those that make the lives of today’s children better. Felix and Eren’s story definitely has added value. I was impressed with the presentation they made, he praised.
It was Gjægtvik who coached Baldauf the last time he won a major international medal and became European champion in 2017. Since then, injuries have complicated him. Last year she was diagnosed with “Ankylosing spondylitis”, an extremely painful rheumatic disorder that is now preventable with injections every two weeks.
Upbringing, injuries and all the challenges on and off the wrestling mat are well documented through “Hodet i klemme”.
– What Felix came up with was very brave, praised Gjægtvik.
Baldauf also led the project «Brother», which will shed light on men’s mental health.
– How did the journey from wrestling training to Norwegian “emotional bass” go?
– Ha ha! I think it’s great and I’m very comfortable with it now. But five years ago there would have been no chance.
– And now there are children’s books… What a trip! Felix Baldauf said happily.
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