Time can be a great helper, it flushes out some heavy memories, but in the case of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, this is probably still a thing to this day. At that time, the hosts had overexerted themselves, athletes complained about empty stadiums, the security situation, crumbling accommodations, and only the food! But Jackie Baumann, who had stumbled into this major event somewhat unexpectedly at the time, did not want to know anything about it. “There are many complaints here that I do not share,” said the then 21-year-old, after she had passed 400 meters in the preliminary run: “There is enough to eat every day, 24 hours a day! You can eat all day ! And we always get a shuttle. What more do you want as an athlete? “
That was almost exactly four years ago, and in an ideal world, hurdler Jackie Baumann from LAV Stadtwerke Tübingen would no longer be in the role of the debutante who pulls her eyes through this strange Olympic world – but in that of an athlete who as she puts it, tackles a lot more specifically, at the summer games in Japan and in general. If it weren’t for the corona pandemic that pushed Olympia into next year. Instead of in Tokyo, the athletes were now at the municipal sports facility in Regensburg, without spectators, but with a distance requirement and two thunderstorms. Otherwise, it was again a fairly ordinary meeting with exceptional performance, such as Baumann’s 52.83 seconds over 400 meters. Just a week ago, she had pushed her best time on her special track, the 400-meter hurdles, to 55.53 seconds; no German had been faster in ten years. Would she have made it so early in a summer with summer games? “It is certainly not that bad for me,” said Baumann, “to have won another year.”
You often hear that these days: that Corona is not just sowing uncertainty, but is something of a gift for many athletes when it comes to their performance.
At Baumann you have to rewind a bit: to their first German championship title in 2015, to the Olympics in 2016, the 2017 World Cup, things always went uphill. Then the Achilles tendon reported, a fibula fracture ensued, the tendon hurt again in 2019 – only a Swiss orthopedist had given it painlessly. “The greatest lesson of the past three years has been that you can run for a while,” she said in Regensburg, “but the body has the opportunity to come back and get even better.” You can also try new things, such as the duel with the stronger national competition over 400 meters – without any hurdles, mind you. Corinna Schwab won that in Regensburg in 52.46 seconds, but then Baumann came ahead of specialists like Ruth Sophia Spelmeyer (52.91). The 24-year-old had never been faster than 53 seconds before.
Baumann had taken up a teaching degree early on, sport and history, and you can feel that this perspective has not hurt her lately. Sport will always shape her, she said, but she can also enjoy the time beyond the high-performance business, unlike some colleagues: “You make room for other things, you get to know yourself much better, not just as the athlete. ” An apprenticeship? After sport, it is not the case that life stops, but only begins.
It sometimes sounds worn out when athletes talk about wanting to go their own way, but at Baumann it always has a special dimension. Not many athletes have fathers who were Olympic champions and were ravaged by toothpaste doping affairs. Jackie Baumann had parried pertinent questions when she won her first national title five years ago: “I’m extremely proud of what my dad did,” she said, he was a role model, but nothing more. Her parents are still withdrawing, mother Isabelle is still training her, but that was always the daughter’s decision. Most of them consult a kind of co-pilot, currently it is Swiss Laurent Meuwly who also trains Lea Sprunger who won European gold in Berlin in 2018 over the long hurdles. Baumann also wants to go there in the medium term: to an international final, perhaps in Tokyo as early as 2021. The norm (55.40) she wants to run this year, she says, for the head, even if the qualification window for Tokyo only opens again in December. In Carolina Krafzik she has grown up to be a strong competitor nationally.
Maybe this strange summer 2020 will even become a springboard for bigger things, not just for Baumann. Many German track and field athletes are just recovering well from long breaks, triple jumper Max Heß has already managed 17.01 meters, Rebekka Haase the 100 meters in 11.11 seconds. Haase had suffered from inflamed bursa in her ankles over the past five years, and the competition calendar had never given her time to eradicate the problems – until now. “For me, the Corona period was really a massive gift,” she said in Regensburg, also for the head: The time of the pandemic also taught her how quickly sport became a minor matter. “Athletes like us are a bit humble,” said Haase. Jackie Baumann would surely like that.