European Championships: German gymnasts reach EM team finals

At this early time, the shadow of the Olympic Tower was still stretched out, as if it didn't want to get up. Here and there, on a fresh morning, a garbage truck hummed along the small, winding streets and paths and went to the garbage cans, in which the remains of the opening ceremony from the previous evening presented themselves as stuffed and piled works of art: old French fries boxes, beer bottles, bags...

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful morning, but for quite a few people, there were probably a thousand of them, it went straight back into the shade, namely into the gym, or rather into the Olympia Hall, which had been converted into a large gymnastics arena. There the qualification increased, this time that of the women. In this sport, these preliminary fights promise excitement right from the start: one mistake and all dreams are shattered. The stands filled up more and more, and the German spectators, maybe two thousand by now, gave their all with every successful exit, every elegant landing. After all, it was the Germans who did it in the first of four im Do gymnastics so-called "subdivisions" were on.

Kim Bui and Emma Malewski, the eldest and the youngest, contribute significantly to the success

However, it is not a military sport, but the opposite: elegance, grace in combination with strength and technology make the attraction. And the team of national coach Gerben Wiersma laid the foundation for what followed in the morning, which is why the evening has to be skipped: After nine hours of qualifying, shortly after eight, the Germans' wait was over. The last gymnast of the last division finished and the result was finally clear: The quintet of the German Gymnastics Federation qualified fourth for the team final on Saturday. In addition, Kim Bui and Elisabeth Seitz advanced to the final on the uneven bars, while Pauline Schäfer and Emma Malewski are in the final battle on the balance beam. Italy's Asia D'Amato won gold in the all-around.

Everything was there when the Germans performed: two well-known medal winners, balance beam world champion Pauline Schäfer-Betz and uneven bars specialist Elisabeth Seitz; also the experienced Sarah Voss, who, however, this time on the beam after a step that was just too far, injured herself slightly on the dismount and had to defuse her further exercises; And, this time particularly important: a particularly experienced and a particularly young athlete: Kim Bui, 33, and Emma Malewski, 18. Fifteen years lie between the two, but what connected them this morning was their contribution to this qualifying success.

One, Bui, ensured success with its stability. Everyone in the whole squad knew: if they messed up with their higher-ranked, because more difficult exercises, then there was always Bui. She appeared and bribed with elegance. And even if she stumbled briefly at the beginning of the exercise, as if on the ground, she still managed to save herself in a clean, somewhat dizzy transition, which at least hardly affected the grade of posture.

Emma Malewski from Hamburg was the counterpart to Bui with her performance. Her strength is not serenity, but that certainty that distinguishes those who do sports and have nothing to lose. It seemed as if the coaching staff had given Malewski full freedom to attack, at least she was convincing on almost every apparatus - especially on the first.

Malewski lays the foundation with a safe opening exercise on the balance beam

Malewski was intended as the opening gymnast, she should open the performance of the entire German team. It went onto the balance beam, a device that isn't necessarily her best, but she didn't seem to fear anything at the moment. "I was on the plan from the start," she later said, she had doubts whether it had to be now, in her very first major championship. But then she decided to do it herself, she felt good, and had no difficulties in the rehearsal rounds either. And after clearing all head-controlled doubts, she got started.

Malewski passed her first acrobatics, stood the other splits and punch-through jumps and turns and, although with some arm rows, came to a standstill after her multiple pirouette - on the ten centimeter wide beam. She wasn't nervous, which wasn't entirely true either, as she later remarked, "I tried to calm down a bit." She then does breathing exercises, or she switches to other techniques: "It's about bringing the excitement that you have inside to the outside." For example, by focusing on the mood, like Malewski. And it worked. Their excitement then disappeared somewhere in the stands, at least the 18-year-old was rid of it.

Malewski is now really getting into the sport, while Kim Bui is looking forward to the opposite: she will retire after this weekend. But it's not that far yet. On Thursday, at the start of the first part of what was still a long weekend with team and individual finals, Kim Bui didn't want to think about the time after. The morning shadow of the television tower was still quite long.

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