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While he was 20 he was called up for his military service, and in 1956 he was sent to the Army Sports Association centre at Potsdam. A period of intensive training under Erich Bock ensued. Already, 1956 he took the East German 5,000 meter junior record (14:18,0). He was moved to Berlin in 1958, where he was trained by Curt Eins, and within half a year he was a member of the East German national team.