The top performers have overcome their post-Olympic low, in the stands at the German championships in Berlin, spectators finally cheered on again.
After difficult Corona years and upheavals in the association in central competitive sports positions, there is a spirit of optimism in the German gymnastics camp almost seven weeks before the European Championships in Munich. “Absolutely. After Tokyo there was a bit of uncertainty for half a year,” said Thomas Gutekunst, sports director of the German Gymnastics Federation (DTB).
You had to sort yourself and analyzed a lot in which direction you were going. “A lot has been clarified since spring and we can work in peace. You can tell that. That’s why it’s nice to be able to show how far we’ve come. The direction is right and I’m really positive about it,” said the 39-year-old. Both the men and the women should move into the team finals at the European Championship.
Gutekunst succeeded long-time sports director Wolfgang Willam almost a year ago and is part of the new sports management. Men’s national coach Valeri Belenki was employed until the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. The long-time women’s national coach Ulla Koch moved up to the DTB presidium as the person responsible for competitive Olympic sports.
Seitz enthusiastic about the new national coach
In her place, the 45-year-old Dutchman Gerben Wiersma was signed to Paris, who is well received by the athletes with fresh ideas. “It’s definitely a lot of fun. He always says it’s extremely important to him that we’re happy. I think that’s great. I’m also looking forward to the next few years with him,” said German record champion Elisabeth Seitz.
The 28-year-old from Stuttgart, like Lukas Dauser, who came second at the Olympics, is one of the gymnasts who took a longer break after Tokyo for mental and physical regeneration. “I fell mentally into a hole,” reported the man from Unterhaching, who nevertheless defended his all-around title from the previous year in Berlin. He dragged the low into this year. “Actually, I thought January would be the starting signal and then I’d get it over with. But it wasn’t that easy. Around Easter it clicked and I was hooked again,” he reported.
Dauser, who celebrated his silver medal standing on parallel bars with the German flag over his shoulder in Tokyo, can be almost certain of his nomination for the European Championships from August 11th to 21st. The championship in the Max-Schmeling-Halle officially has no effect on the naming, said Belenki. “But you can see which gymnasts you have to reckon with,” he emphasized, summing up: “Overall, I saw that the performances are good. But we also saw a few gymnastic exercises.”
Nguyen with shoulder problems
He wants to invite a maximum of 20 gymnasts for the first qualification. Then there will be an international match in Magglingen, Switzerland, and a second qualifying competition before he nominates his five-man squad for the European Championship plus substitute gymnasts. Whether two-time Olympic silver medalist Marcel Nguyen will be one of them is unclear. The 34-year-old had announced that he would continue until Paris, but on Saturday, as the best in qualifying, he missed the final on the rings due to shoulder problems. “After the first qualification, I will nominate three gymnasts, the other two after the second. I wish Marcel that he gets in shape, that he offers himself well in the first qualification,” said Belenki.
For his women colleague Wiersma, the selection is much smaller. In addition to Seitz, who did not complete a four-way event in Berlin due to a lack of training and only competed on two apparatuses, the new all-around champion Sarah Voss (Cologne), uneven bars champion Kim Bui (Stuttgart) as well as Pauline Schäfer-Betz and Emma Malewski (both Chemnitz) on the shortlist.
The Dutchman is also keeping an eye on Sophie Scheder, who took third place at the Olympics on the balance beam in 2016. After protracted injury problems, the Chemnitz native did gymnastics on three out of four devices. “I’m really happy that Elisabeth, Pauline, Sarah and Kim, last year’s Olympic team, are still with us. Sophie is here too. That’s really good for me because experienced athletes and young energy are a mark of quality ‘ Wiersma said.