Leipzig. Fast-paced time and yet slowed down by the persistent spoiler known all over the world. You have to / should be able to let go. But I still have various souvenirs from the Leipzig Olympic application that failed on May 18, 2004 – stickers, cards, toy truck, backpack. The symbols of defeat bring back great memories, even if the topic evokes a tired smile in some contemporaries. But for me the time was more exciting than almost any other in the 35.5 years at my Volkszeitung, almost 30 of them as a frenzied sports reporter with a gymnastics note.
“You absolutely have to take a look at the men’s toilet!”
Now we come full circle. How the LVZ wrote about me in October 1976 for the three-city tournament: “Interestingly, it wasn’t always the so-called ‘big hits’ that went wrong – like Kerstin Schneider’s crouched somersault forward.” On the balance beam, my favorite device. Now I have said goodbye to the active creative phase and the recently almost orphaned office.
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Thousands of articles, from news to reports about Leipzig hopefuls have been made, I stopped by in Dortmund, Berlin, Klingenthal, Tauberbischofsheim or Wattenscheid. From August 2001 to April 2003, 85 portraits alone were written every week as part of the “1000 Thanks” volunteer campaign, for which our newspaper received the “Pro Ehrenamt” award from the German Sports Association. Hesse’s sports minister at the time, Volker Bouffier, praised the honorary position as the “glue of society” and praised the LVZ’s commitment as exemplary and innovative. The handover of the check was always planned in secret and culminated in a small club party.
The award ceremony with the then editor-in-chief Hartwig Hochstein went to the 49th floor of the Commerzbank branch in Frankfurt. An anecdote about the memorable day is allowed. After the official congratulations, a gourmet meal awaited. At the large men’s table sat Günther von Lojewski on my right, and on the left was award winner Celine Fried, head of sports for the Darmstadt-Dieburg district. It was very entertaining between delicious courses.
After wine (yes) and cigar (no), the host turned to the ladies’ doubles with a smile: “You absolutely have to take a look at the men’s toilet on the floor!” I heard right. Repetition: “You must have seen that!” Because women are naturally curious and this toilet invitation was guaranteed to be unique, we followed the “toilet man” into the sanctuary high above Mainhatten. We looked over the typical toilet inventory at a panorama glass wall. What a grandiose view of the city we had.
From Amsterdam to Szeged
I have reported live from numerous European and world championships in various sports, from gymnastics festivals, international matches and the Lipsiade as much as I like athletes’ balls and the marathon. On the regatta courses in Amsterdam, Szeged, Posen, Racice and Duisburg, it was very easy to work because our Leipzig starters always fought for precious metals. My favorite child, the “types, hustle and bustle, temperaments” have developed into a cult affair. My idea from 1997 to put colorful stories away from the competition in the paper resulted in over 900 Wednesday columns.
The sports city – I discover it on almost every corner and as a Leipzig citizen I know it inside out. All good? As in real life, the positive and negative stories alternated. Too few sports facilities, too little recognition for volunteering, suspicion of doping, personal sensitivities as “ruiners” or the eternal struggle for money and sponsors, the pandemic madness for a year now – all of this left me speechless. But, in my opinion, the regional sports director has mostly found the right tone. Thanks to the family team and the friendly team, the job, which was often extended, could be fulfilled in the best possible way.
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There have been enough climbs and falls. The HCL played in the Champions League and had to file for bankruptcy in 2017. The restart in league three was not so exciting, but I got behind the matter, the club pounded and is now an up-and-coming second division. The Eagles basketball players, who played on the first floor and then found each other a few classes lower, were different.
My ranking of journalistic hits would go beyond the scope here. So much: Far above is the interview with Dirk Nowitzki, who was welcomed as a prominent guest on the Challenge Tour in 2004 at the Alte Messe. The joint photo of the petite sports editor (1.58 m) and the tall blonde (2.13 m) is legendary.
Change of location, September 2005, Peterssteinweg 19. The boys of the national hockey team left the minibuses fresh, happy and smirking in front of the LVZ building. The successful team, at that time still under the direction of national coach Bernhard Peters, was not too bad for a pit stop on a training tour to the EM stadium at ATV on Prager Straße.
Respect for Leipzig heroes
Telling the personal story of athletes in all their facets has always fascinated me. Once again I have great respect for the rower Annekatrin Thiele and the canoeists Tina Dietze and Christian Gille. I was allowed to accompany these likeable athletes from the beginning of their careers to Olympic victory.
I especially remember the gold lesson of Bambi prize winner “Gilli” in Athens in 2004. Because I followed the turbo load with his Canadier partner Tomasz Wylenzek in front of the big screen with numerous thumb presses in the Peugeot-Sachsen GmbH Wittenberger Straße, where DHfK man Christian Gille worked as a car mechanic.
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The final sprint of the Leipzig / Essen duo was drowned out in loud cheers. “Madness. There is no such thing. Gilli, madness. That’s awesome ”, the eyewitness filtered out of the happy crowd. Four years later, the pulse went up again. Gille / Wylenzek were missing tiny millimeters to win. Reporter’s voice: “Unfortunately only silver.” Customer voice: “What does silver mean here? That’s great.”
Just watch, boring. That’s why there were some personal test runs. Starting with women’s football at Lok Engelsdorf, through musketeer experiences in the fencing club, to cool hours on the ice. I sat in the bolide, followed Leipzig’s motorsport ace Marvin Kirchhöfer with the media, had Hamilton, Vettel and Co. in Abu Dhabi in front of the lens. There was also a kick with Effenberg, Maradona-Double and Beckenbauer in the central stadium tunnel. Fast moving time. You have to be able to let go. At this point from me: 1000 thanks.