For five years there was radio silence between Robert (37) and Christoph Harting (31). The two Olympic champion brothers in discus throwing didn’t have much to say to each other. The cracks were deep. The reconciliation process started with a joint TV appearance in March.
The two Berliners are now giving their first big interview as a reconciled pair of brothers to the BamS.
BILD am SUNDAY: Have you really not spoken to each other in five years?
Robert: Yes, unfortunately, since 2016.
Christoph: We didn’t even say ‘hello’ to each other.
BILD am SUNDAY: Not even at Christmas the festival of love?
Christoph: No, we avoided each other.
Robert: This year we are celebrating together again for the first time since 2016.
BILD am SUNDAY: Where did you celebrate Christmas?
Robert: I invited Christoph to my house, we were together with my wife Julia, our twins, our parents and grandma Renate.
Christoph: I was really looking forward to it. It is a great relief, especially for our parents, to see us together again now. Like all of us, you suffered greatly from this situation. It’s crazy that I haven’t been to a Christmas party in four years.
BILD am SUNDAY: What was Christmas like for the Hartings this year?
Robert: On Christmas Eve there was traditionally sausages with potato salad. On December 25th there was the duck with red cabbage and dumplings.
BILD am SUNDAY: Have you given yourself something?
Robert: (laughs) Yes, I slaughtered the piggy bank there once. My wife got Chris an Ikea voucher.
Christoph: Robert got ‘Rice Krispies’ (breakfast cereal; ed.) From me.
BILD am SUNDAY: How did you get your rift under control?
Robert: Back then, we first met alone and talked for almost two hours, and later together with the family. Everyone at the dinner table could get rid of their worries. With a certain degree of maturity, we primarily cleared up the misunderstandings that third parties had always contributed to and influenced us. And: Above all, we apologized to each other.
Christoph: Two or three things had to be clarified, but otherwise we made sure not to bring the old stories onto the table. We just set everything to zero, sort of a reset.
BILD am SUNDAY: Are you afraid that there will be another dispute between brothers?
Christoph: No. We have both become more mature, and it’s actually pretty simple: Since we stopped being permanently attached to each other through sport, there are no longer many sources of conflict between us.
Robert: (winking) Otherwise he still doesn’t like me. It used to be just shit. As long as we have been training together, we just couldn’t solve things properly due to the competitive situation. Now we’ve found cool rules and recognized things.
BILD am SUNDAY: Which?
Robert: At that time I had my own plan of world domination. I had to take revenge on those who didn’t believe in me or who didn’t indulge me. For this I had developed my concepts for action and a motivational mantra. My values, my ideas! And when Christoph came to Berlin as a discus thrower, he was supposed to be like me. I just didn’t want to admit that he has his own character.
Christoph: Robert’s path was zero transferable to mine. Then there was the lack of maturity, we just didn’t have a common level. And with this situation we and our parents were left alone. We didn’t know what the solution is. By the time we realized that, too much earth had been burned up.
Robert: I’ll leave Christoph where he is now; in his world, with his rules of life, and we’re doing pretty well with it. In addition, we no longer allow third parties to chat us in.
BILD am SUNDAY: Is it true that the two of you didn’t invite each other to their weddings?
Christoph: Yes and no. I got married completely in isolation, and our parents weren’t invited either. I haven’t invited anyone. So it had nothing to do with Robert.
Robert: I invited him. But there was no requirement that he had to come.
BILD am SUNDAY: Was and is it difficult to be Robert Harting’s little brother?
Christoph: Sure, Robert became known relatively quickly after winning the World Cup silver in 2007. And with the increasing interest around him, people looked: ‘Oops, there’s still someone like him’. And if you’re still in the discovery phase yourself, that’s damn difficult. Looking back, I think envy played a role too.
BILD am SUNDAY: What do you like about your brother?
Robert: The simplicity of how he decides things. I’m having a damn hard time with that. I like his confidence and his good rhetoric.
Christoph: Of course Robert’s life’s sporting achievement, his unbridled ambition. What he does, he does with conviction, that’s what I miss about me sometimes. And I think he’s a great, patient father.
BILD am SUNDAY: How sad are you about the argument and the lost time with it? You could have made history as the Olympic champion brothers …
Robert: I’m actually still thinking about it.
Christoph: Really? Me too. Especially about this unique fact that a pair of brothers wins one after the other in the same discipline Olympic champions. Mainly because of our parents, who are so incredibly proud of it, but as brothers we couldn’t really be happy for each other in 2016.
Robert: In addition to football, German sports consumers have room for four to five events that they fondly remember. We could have been one of them, but because we were so divided, it just didn’t work. That is extremely unfortunate. At that time I had already designed logos – like ‘Hartings United’.