Sara Benfares fought her way to the finish in the 5,000 meter semi-final with great effort. When she got there, she collapsed. She appeared unconscious before rescuers gathered around her and hoisted her into a wheelchair. It was frightening images that the World Athletics Championships broadcast from Eugene on Wednesday local time. Above all, for the German athletes, this day was torture.
Not only Benfares could not cope with the conditions. Almost all other runners from the German team also had huge problems. 32 degrees in the shade and much more on the hot track also made things difficult for the exceptional runner Konstanze Klosterhalfen, also over 5000 meters. As is usual with her, the 25-year-old started her semi-final run quickly and ran with the front runners. But three laps before the end, her suffering was first visible on her face, and shortly afterwards on her legs. The World Cup third from 2019 collapsed completely and missed the final in 19th place in a time of 15:17.78 minutes.
Shortly thereafter she stood in front of the cameras of the public service and fought back tears. “I think that was the toughest lap I’ve ever run,” she said. She never thought of getting out. “I’m glad I ran the race.” Klosterhalfen didn’t come to the World Championships in Eugene in top form. A few weeks ago she contracted a corona infection. She had to cancel the finals in Berlin at the end of June. She also skipped the 10,000 meter race in Eugene that she had registered for. Apparently the 5000 meter race had come too early for her. Like Benfares, she endured agony on the final laps. In addition to the two, Alina Reh also did not make it into the final.
Gesa Krause also experienced agony over the 3000 meter obstacle. Like Klosterhalfen, Krause is an exceptional runner in the German team. The 29-year-old has already twice won bronze at a world championship. And like Klosterhalfen, she hadn’t come to Eugene in the best shape. A cold a few weeks before the competitions had thrown her back – and the preparation for the season had already come to a standstill due to various injuries.
On Wednesday, when Norah Jeruto won (8:53.02 minutes), she ran a lonely race in the final over 3000 meters steeplechase – as the last. In 9:52.66 minutes she came in 15th and last place. “It’s hard to enjoy when it was so shitty,” she said afterwards on ARD.
The day was less painful, but at least as frustrating for the German discus throwers. Kristin Pudenz, Shanice Craft and Claudine Vita had been given chances for a medal. Especially the Potsdamer Pudenz, who had won silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, was considered a contender for a podium place. But things turned out differently. Two of her attempts landed in the net, one throw went to 59.97 meters. Like Craft (63.07 meters, 9th place), Pudenz was eleventh and was no longer allowed to take part in the decisive competition of the top eight. After the competition, she crouched on the bench, covered her face with her hands and let Vita comfort her. The latter was the only ray of hope anyway: In the surprise victory of the Chinese Feng Bin (69.12 meters), Vita came fifth with a distance of 64.24.
Wednesday in Eugene was definitely the low point of a previously botched World Cup for the Germans. The German athletes have not yet been able to win a single medal, there is a risk of a historically poor performance in German athletics. The German Athletics Association is already trying to forget the disaster quickly. Just three weeks after the World Championships in Eugene, the German athletes want to do better at their true highlight of the season. Then the European Championships in Munich are coming up. Maybe a few degrees less – and not with quite as strong competition.