2022 was a special year for Gina Lückenkemper. In August, the 26-year-old track and field athlete sprinted to the gold medal over 100 meters in 10.99 seconds at the European Championships in Munich. And Lückenkemper also made it to the top of the podium in the 4×100 meter relay. For this, the Bamberg native was awarded the Bavarian Sports Prize in October and was also voted Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year in December.
“By far the highlight of my career,” said Lückenkemper in the Deutschlandfunk sports talk about the EM. “Thinking back on it, I’m just filled with gratitude.”
“Incredibly brilliant training situation” in Florida
Lückenkemper starts for the German Athletics Association, but trains around five months a year with a training group in Florida. It was an “incredibly brilliant training situation,” she said.
“I can train here in a group with Olympic champions, world champions and world record holders. It’s an unbelievable amount of talent that comes together here. As a result, I regularly have competition in training, which I don’t want to shy away from when it comes to the real competition And that’s a situation and an environment from which I personally benefit incredibly much. It’s an environment that I just can’t find in the form in the sprint in Germany.”
There is no such thing in Germany, said the native of Soesterin. “Of course it would be nice to spend more time at home. I’m very attached to my homeland and also a big family man and would therefore be happy and grateful if I had the opportunity to train in Germany like I can here. But that’s wishful thinking at the moment. We don’t currently have any world champions or Olympic champions in sprint training in Germany.”
“Forgo personal vacation trips”
The topic of the CO2 footprint is a topic that Lückenkemper deals with on her many trips, she said. “Unfortunately, my job is currently the same. That’s why I try to fly as little as possible. That means I try to expand my blocks that I do in the USA as much as possible to keep flying as minimal as possible and therefore also refrain from personal vacation trips.”
The sporting highlight of the new year is the World Championships in Budapest (19th to 27th August). Lückenkemper “still has an open account” with the World Cup. At the World Cup last year, the 26-year-old ended after a mess and a total of three starts in the semi-finals.
“I definitely want to be in a World Cup final at some point. And I’ll do that again in Budapest in 2023.” With the relay, Lückenkemper won the bronze medal “in a sensational race” at the last World Championships in Eugene/USA. This is one of the reasons that Lückenkemper is full of anticipation for Budapest.
“Enthusiasm for major sporting events is there”
Meanwhile, the German Olympic Sports Confederation is working on bringing the Olympic Games to Germany. “Olympic Games in Germany can be a great thing, as long as the concept is well thought out and implemented sustainably,” said Lückenkemper. I believe that the European Championships in Munich have shown just how capable Germany is of sporting events and how sustainably such an Olympic site can be used. And the enthusiasm in the country for such major sporting events is definitely there.”
In the past, possible Olympic bids had also failed due to the veto of the citizens. That’s why Lückenkemper believes “that it depends on how the citizens are picked up, how the whole thing is transported sensibly to the outside world. I do think that in 2022, with these really successful European Championships, a good foundation was laid to attract citizens Citizens to pick up what the Olympic Games in Germany is concerned.”
2036 would be the next opportunity to host the Olympic Games in Germany, 100 years after the Nazi Games in Berlin. The competitor is Qatar, which has recently come under criticism for human rights violations due to the World Cup and which offers rather difficult climatic conditions for the Summer Olympics.
“In the end we are athletes, to put it bluntly, in such a situation we are always the ones who are fooled because we have no say in it. We are not the ones who decide where a competition takes place,” said Lückenkemper. “And when you’ve been working your ass off all your life and you’ve only got a limited amount of time to play the sport at a certain level, it’s a very, very difficult situation to deal with.”
Difficult situation for footballers
That’s why the situation for the national soccer players at the World Cup was difficult, “because they just felt that no matter what they did, they couldn’t please anyone. And that’s also something that’s not without it for the athletes and definitely not passes the athletes without a trace.”
Lückenkemper generally wanted to express her opinion freely, but also said: “There are also things that you might not want to talk about at all, but are more or less forced to express an opinion, although you might also just doesn’t have a great public opinion on anything.”
Athlete and not a virologist
Lückenkemper also knows situations “where you are asked about things that you are not qualified to make statements about, for example. During the corona pandemic there were many questions about what I mean, how the whole thing is developing, where I say I’m not a virologist.” Although athletes have a role model function, “but nevertheless athletes do not have to comment on all topics that circulate through world history.”
In Germany in particular, it is difficult for athletes to use their role model function, said Lückenkemper, “because in Germany everything in terms of media technology focuses on negative events and not on the positive ones. There are more than enough athletes who focus on positive things concentrate or report on positive things. But that won’t have as much of an impact in Germany, and especially in the media landscape, as negative headlines.”