Only the best counts for a man like Lance Brauman. The 52-year-old is considered a luminary in the athletics scene, as one of the best coaches ever. Brauman’s training camp in Clermont, Florida is a good address for anyone who wants to make it to the top of the sprinters or stay at the top. His clientele includes top sprinters like Tori Bowie and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, as well as the dazzling Noah Lyles.
A long way from this category is Gina Lückenkemper, who has been the fastest woman in Germany for several years. The 25-year-old trains regularly with Braumans group in the USA. But why not join the best, even if you’re not one of them?
In any case, the most recent appearances by Lückenkemper suggest that Brauman made the EM second in 2018 legs. At the meeting two weeks ago in Wetzlar, she ran the 100 meters in 11.04 seconds, her best time in almost four years. At the German championships this weekend in Berlin, the expectations for Lückenkemper over 100 and 200 meters are high. The track and field fans in this country and especially in Berlin still have very good memories of their enthusiastic performances at the European Championships four years ago. And coach Brauman leaves no doubt that Lückenkemper can do great things. “I firmly believe that she will set a personal best this year,” he told the Tagesspiegel.
If Brauman is right, it would be a brilliant comeback for a sprinter that some observers had already written off. Lückenkemper has had difficult years. Above all, injuries threw her back. A vertebra was crooked, muscle injuries followed and the corona pandemic made her planned restart at Brauman’s training group more difficult. As a consequence, Lückenkemper fell far short of their best times.
Malice was spreading, especially on social media. She should eat less and exercise more. Such advice was given to her in various channels and apparently not ignored by Lückenkemper. She complained about it several times and appealed for more mindfulness. It was frightening what she had to put up with in the past two years, she told the “Münchner Merkur”. “You’re immediately the bogeyman when things don’t go well. In situations like this, I find it amazing what some people dare to judge other people,” she said. “I don’t go into other people’s offices and judge people for their performance on the job.”
For Lance Brauman, the criticism of her person because of the plight of the injured is great nonsense anyway. “She has only been able to fully participate in our program since this year and we can already see that it works,” he says. Brauman trains less, but harder than is the case in Europe and especially in Germany. He says he cannot accurately judge the training system in Germany. “But from what I’m hearing from people, our training program is pretty intense in comparison.”
In the last year on Deutschlandfunk, Lückenkemper had reported on so-called knockout training days, occasional units that represented extreme experiences for the athletes. Several sprints in quick succession are then completed. She almost threw up doing it, she said. “But it wasn’t time to throw up because we had to keep running after a minute.”
Now Lance Brauman enjoys a good reputation in the track and field scene. But his past is anything but scandal-free. At the end of 2006, he had to serve a ten-month prison sentence in the US state of 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 about his protégé’s frauds. Gay also asserted that Brauman was not privy to the doping plans.
Gina Lückenkemper will know the background of her trainer and like many others she has nevertheless decided to let him make her faster. As things stand, the plan should work. Maybe already at the weekend in Berlin.