15 Aug 2017

Hopes lie with Lückenkemper and Co.

Young, talented and super ambitious: a new generation of German athletes is making its mark. Javelin world champion Johannes Vetter (24) had his definitive break-through in London at a top-class event and athletes like sprinter Gina Lückenkemper (20) and track hope Konstanze Klosterhalfen (20), hardly out of their teens, are champing at the bit.

German athletes
Image credit: Berlin Leichtathletik-EM 2018

“We’ve got the talent and new faces are coming through,” DLV President Clemens Prokop told Sport Informations Dienst (SID). “Our athletes have a lot of potential and we have good reason to be optimistic about the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.” Especially considering that the other German medallists from London, like Vetter, are only in their mid 20s. Heptathlete Carolin Schäfer (25/silver), hurdler Pamela Dutkiewicz (25/bronze) and decathlete Kai Kazmirek (26/bronze) presumably have their best years ahead of them, while Rico Freimuth (29/silver) is already a familiar face at the highest level.

But the second tier of youngsters have also been attracting attention this year, with a raft of promising newcomers to choose from in the near future, in particular the European Championships in 2018 in Berlin. Lückenkemper was the first to break the magic time of eleven seconds, and although Klosterhalfen failed to reach the 1500m final, she gave a gutsy performance, as did Alina Reh (20/5000m).

“They’re all totally different characters, but they’re united by a common drive to succeed,” said Prokop.

We’re perfectly teed up for the European Championships in Berlin.

With their performances in the finals in London alone German athletes would have taken twelve European Championship medals – with a number of names from the Rio Games missing from the line-ups. Individuals such as Cindy Roleder (injured/hurdles) and Christina Schwanitz (maternity leave/shot-put) can be expected to compete, as can discus throwers Christoph Harting and Daniel Jasinski, who took gold and bronze in Rio but did not qualify for the World Championships.

Olympic javelin winner Thomas Röhler, who missed bronze in London by seven centimetres, is also only 25. Mateusz Przybylko (25) cleared the same height as the third-placed man but failed more often over the course of the competition. European champion Max Heß (21) injured himself warming up for the triple-jump heats and hurdler Gesa Felicitas Krause (25) was denied all hope of another World Championship medal after being tripped.

“New faces are important for athletics,” said heptathlete Schäfer, commenting on the new state of the national squad and adding that older competitors were indispensable for the advice they can give. Getting the balance right is key.