Gina Lückenkemper had been chasing this feeling in vain for four years – in the 100-meter final of the German championships in Berlin it was finally there again.
“It felt like flying,” said the 25-year-old, describing her rapid run below the eleven-second sound barrier. After a long, not easy time, the EM second stormed back to the top of the German sprint elite in 10.99 seconds. Afterwards, she gave free rein to her many emotions and tears of joy.
She felt the lightness in all three races on Saturday, which she completed “in a controlled and easy manner” and felt “without much effort”. She last managed something like this in 2018 at the European Championships in Berlin in the semifinals and finals in 10.98 seconds each, also on the blue track in the Olympic Stadium.
Lückenkemper only sped faster at the 2017 World Cup in London in 10.95 seconds. “Gina showed an incredibly strong run,” said Rebekka Haase, who finished second in 11.20 seconds and broke the European Championship norm, paying tribute to her competitor.
Hard training in Florida
The Westphalian, who was born in Hamm, laid the basis for her brisk return as number one in the women’s sprint after bad luck with injuries and Corona braking with US coach Lance Brauman in Florida.
It was a step across the ocean that attracted numerous critics. Also because the trainer is not without controversy because of his proximity to athletes who have cast a doping shadow.
When gapenkemper didn’t go well, she said she also experienced massive insults and hostility on social media. “The worst thing was that in society someone who was on the ground was more likely to be stepped on than a helping hand came,” said the athlete from SCC Berlin in the “Aktuelles Sportstudio” of “ZDF”. “Social media is both a blessing and a curse, it was a curse for me two years ago,” she said.
She did not let herself be dissuaded from the course. “I always had the feeling that I had done everything right. I never doubted it, even if critical voices came from many sides,” she emphasized. “I was sure that what I was doing was the right thing to do.”
With self-confidence to the World Cup
At Brauman, Lückenkemper got to know new dimensions of training intensity and variety – and to assert himself in the circle of world-class runners like Noah Lyles and Shauna Miller-Uibo. “You don’t want to show yourself that you’re right in the group,” said the sympathizer. “Every workout hurts. Lactate pain says hello.”
She now looks forward to the World Championships from July 15th to 24th in Eugene/USA and the European Championships at home three weeks later in Munich with renewed self-confidence. “I’ll continue to work with concentration. Then it will be really fast again at both events,” she said. The aim is that this will also be the case over 200 meters and with the relay. In Berlin she did without the 200 meters because of tired legs.
Lückenkemper regretted that there was no duel with Alexandra Burghardt, who won both titles in 2021 and in the winter as a bobsled pusher also won Olympic silver in Beijing.
The fastest woman of the past season had to cancel the start due to gastrointestinal problems. “It would have been a challenge,” said rival Lückenkemper. “I would have given Alex at least the chance to defend the title. When she’s fit, she can run incredibly strong times.”
Now she hopes to be able to do great things together with Burghardt in the sprint relay at the World Championships or rather at the European Championships. “I think we can put together a cool season and definitely fight for a medal,” said Lückenkemper, who doesn’t see herself as a returnee at all.
“A lot of people are now making me a comeback kid, but I think I’ve never been away,” she emphasized. “I just had bad luck with injuries.”