Dominic Thiem at virtual sports summit: "You can't compare winning the US Open to protecting the oceans and our environment"

Dominic Thiem at the 2021 French Open - Day One
Dominic Thiem at the 2021 French Open - Day One

Dominic Thiem recently attended the Kosmos Sports Summit virtually, while his recovery from the wrist injury continues. During the summit, Thiem elaborated on the immediate need to take action on environmental protection and his involvement in it through his partnership with Adidas.

The Austrian first said that his mother made him aware of the damage being done to the environment at an early age. Thiem then learned more about the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet during his first year on the tour.

"Education from my mom at an early age helped me get into learning about the climate space, but I lost out a little bit (on schooling) in my teenage years," Thiem said. "After my first year on tour when I was 20, I just had a few kilos too much and I was looking into the diet, into what I was eating, reading into the topic. From that moment I was cutting meat and fish to eat super healthy, not only for me, but for the planet."

Dominic Thiem went on to admit that his tennis-related travel is detrimental to the environment. But the 2020 US Open champion hopes to balance that out by maintaining a healthy diet and using his platform to educate people about the cause.

"I'm flying around the world all year long, but I have to do this because otherwise I couldn’t do my job," Thiem said. "I try to have a healthy diet, I try to use my influence on fans, the big stage provided by the tournaments — that’s the only way I can live with my big carbon footprint."

Thiem also called for more international sportspeople to help further raise awareness. The Austrian believes there is no time to waste in this regard, and that athletes from different disciplines can help increase the urgency of the efforts.

"Sports is a huge stage, the biggest athletes in the world have a big fan base," Thiem said. "To take care of the planet, to turn things around — the time is now. We don't have any time to do that (take care of the planet), it would be great if athletes in the biggest sports in the world were going in this direction."

Asked if raising awareness about environmental protection is anything like winning a Grand Slam, the 28-year-old claimed "you can't compare" the two things since tennis success is very personal.

"Winning the US Open is something amazing, but it's pretty personal and you can’t even compare it to protecting the oceans and our environment as the whole future of the planet depends on it," Thiem said. "If I could make a little difference there (in raising awareness and bringing change) it would be a success of a lifetime."

Dominic Thiem is an ocean warrior: Cyrill Gutsh

Dominic Thiem celebrating a point during a match at the 2015 Miami Open
Dominic Thiem celebrating a point during a match at the 2015 Miami Open

Also participating in the summit was Cyrill Gutsh, founder of Parley for the Oceans. Parley is a non-profit organization that Dominic Thiem has worked with closely over the years in an effort to reduce plastic usage on the coast.

Gutsh called Thiem an 'ocean warrior', and asserted that the Austrian isn't doing mere lip service in his environmental conservation efforts.

"There has to be a super credible commitment to the cause, it can’t be a lip service," Gutsh said. "We just spent the first month on call to judge if he's serious about it. He sincerely is, Dominic (Thiem) is an ocean warrior."
"We are selective, it is not about another face or another name, it’s about another person — a person that becomes a pillar of the movement and Dominic has shown that right away," he added. "I enjoy our conversations because there is a sincere interest and willingness to learn."

Dominic Thiem also stressed the need to recycle plastic to reduce carbon footprint, and claimed that Parley's partnership with footwear and apparel manufacturer Adidas has allowed him to promote awareness. Since 2019, the 28-year-old has been sporting Adidas kits and footwear made from recycled plastic.

"The objective is to turn bad things like plastic into positive amazing things that I’m now wearing as part of my kit," Thiem said. "From the first moment with these kits, there have been good memories."
"Education is the most important aspect, hopefully I can drive people to change their habits and lifestyle," he added. "If they see me hustling for hours in that Adidas x Parley kit, they’re gonna get into the topic as well."

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Edited by Sanjay Rajan
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