With the German flag flying over their heads, the German sprinters shouted out their overflowing joy with a loud “Jaahh!”. Just as Julian Weber finally slipped out of his hands the hoped-for first medal for the German athletics team in the javelin, the sprint relay in Eugene surprisingly raced to bronze – and after an often bitter World Cup week on the penultimate day of competition, also redeemed the German association, which was in need of explanation .
Weber was unable to use the enthusiasm and emotions of Tatjana Pinto, Alexandra Burghardt, Gina Lückenkemper and Rebekka Haase after third place behind the USA and Jamaica just a few meters away in the last attempt on Saturday (local time). Like at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, he finished fourth and was deeply sad afterwards.
In the meantime, after the many German disappointments in the US state of Oregon, the sprinters clapped their hands in front of their faces in disbelief and then hugged each other drunk with joy. At the award ceremony, the quartet beamed on the podium and proudly presented the bronze medals.
“We talked about the luck of the fittest all the time beforehand, and today it was finally with us,” said Germany’s best sprinter Gina Lückenkemper. “Finally, finally!” added the 2018 European Championship runner-up on ZDF, almost imploringly.
“It feels like a dream right now, I hope I don’t wake up,” Pinto said. After eight dreary days for the German athletes with only one top eight result, the relay over 4×100 meters rushed to the finish in 42.03 seconds.
Gold went surprisingly to the USA in 41.14 seconds, who finished 0.04 seconds ahead of Jamaica of 100-meter world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and 200-meter world champion Shericka Jackson. Then the German quartet followed – also because the British top runner and World Cup fourth Dina Asher-Smith injured herself right next to Lückenkemper in the finish curve.
“We’ve wished for it so often, and today we just did it and were a bit lucky. You just need that,” Burghardt commented on the success. She won silver as a brakewoman in bobsleigh at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February and said before the upcoming European Championships in Munich: “Now we still need gold.”
Last runner Haase had secured third place on the home stretch and was particularly emotional afterwards. “We are incredibly proud. We fought together for this medal for seven years,” said Haase.
For a German 4×100 meter relay, it was the first medal since bronze at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. At that time, Marion Wagner, Anne Cibis, Cathleen Tschirch and Verena Sailer finished behind Jamaica and the Bahamas. A year ago, at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, with the same line-up as now in the USA, it was enough for fifth place.
“We’ve finished fourth and fifth so many times. We were in the flow. It’s a dream that it turned out like this,” said Burghardt. With a view to the home European Championships, Lückenkemper emphasized that anything is possible with this season.
“The medal is a sensation. You would have expected men to do that. That’s the jolt we needed,” said DLV President Jürgen Kessing of the German Press Agency.
For javelin thrower Weber, however, this jerk was no longer enough. “I’m happy for the girls who did such a great race and got a medal. That’s great. That also pushed me, but I couldn’t take the energy with me,” he said. With the first throw he had come to 86.86 meters, but could not improve and was pushed out of the medal ranks.
“After the first throw, the air just went out and I then made myself small. I didn’t have the power,” reported the 27-year-old from Mainz. “Now the disappointment is there to have only reached fourth place again. I would have preferred the fifth.”