Lance Brauman posted a sports-historical picture on his Instagram channel – at least for German athletics. It shows the photo finish of the women’s 100 sprint at this year’s European Championships in Munich. And only after looking at the picture several times can it be recognized with the help of drawn lines: The winner is the woman at the bottom of the photo who stretches her breast the furthest forward: Gina Lückenkemper.
In 10.99 seconds, the German stormed to the gold medal very late on Tuesday evening, at the same time as the Swiss Mujinga Kambundji and just a hundredth of a second ahead of the British Neita Daryll. Big favorite Dina Asher-Smith had to retire due to injury.
Obviously, Lance Brauman played a major role in that Lückenkemper was that tiny bit ahead of the others. The American has been the coach of the German sprinter for several years. Lückenkemper had to struggle with thigh problems in the semi-finals. She didn’t know if she could start at all, she said. “But my trainer Lance Brauman gave me the pep talk of my life before the final run.” It was not immediately clear what words Brauman chose to motivate him.
Lückenkemper was still very busy after the victory, with the cheering, but also with a cut that she sustained in a fall after crossing the finish line. The 25-year-old fell to the ground, fell on her spiked shoe and probably suffered a laceration in her thigh. This had to be sewn up in a hospital that night.
“Mission to hold hands was successful,” she wrote on Instagram. “May go back to the hotel.” Today, Wednesday at 6:25 p.m., she has already announced that she will be back in the Olympic Stadium – for the medal ceremony.
What had not been said in advance about Gina Lückenkemper. She had loudly defended herself against the criticism of the German track and field athletes, addressed deficits in the support system in this country, whereupon she was tackled. In the Tagesspiegel interview, for example, from the former Olympic champion Ulrike Nasse-Meyfarth.
Lückenkemper is one of the few German track and field athletes with charisma beyond the borders of this country. This is another reason why she can afford to be tutored by Brauman. In its training camp in Clermont, Florida, there are top sprinters like Shaunae Miller-Uibo or the dazzling Olympic champion Noah Lyles, both of whom were among the 40,000 spectators in Munich’s Olympic Stadium.
Brauman is considered a luminary coach with a very high level of self-confidence. He also passes this on to his athletes. He firmly believes that Lückenkemper will set a new personal best this year, he told the Tagesspiegel two months ago (this is 10.95 seconds). We continue to work on their start and are already very satisfied with the progress.
Some observers had already written Lückenkemper off. She has had difficult years, set back by injuries. A vertebra was crooked, muscle injuries followed and the corona pandemic made her planned restart at Brauman’s training group more difficult. As a result, Lückenkemper fell far short of their best times.
But with Coach Brauman, she regained momentum. Brauman trains less but harder than is the case in Europe and especially in Germany. He says he cannot accurately assess the training system in Germany. “But from what I’m hearing from people, our training program is pretty intense in comparison.”
Brauman now enjoys a good reputation in the athletics scene. But his past is anything but scandal-free. In 2006, he served a 10-month sentence in Texas for providing illegal college scholarships to talented athletes. At the time, Brauman was coaching Tyson Gay, then the world’s greatest sprint hope.
In 2013, Gay was banned for doping. Brauman didn’t want to know anything about his protégé’s frauds. Gay also asserted that Brauman was not privy to the doping plans.
In any case, Lance Brauman managed to get Gina Lückenkemper back on her feet. The women’s sprint race at this European Championship was as dramatic as the whole evening. Lückenkemper was behind after the start – as we know her to be. Mujinga Kambundji already looked like the certain winner, but in the last meters Lückenkemper came up with all his might and threw himself energetically to the finish. “I’m so incredibly grateful to you,” she called out to the fans in the Olympic Stadium shortly afterwards. And they were very grateful to her.