In a brand new podcast referred to as Far From Being Finished With Gymnastics [in German: Ausgeturnt – Noch Lange Nicht!] two-time Olympic medalist Dagmar Kersten talks about her time as a high athlete within the GDR, or East Germany. With tales from her childhood and her time at a sports activities college, by to turning into a candidate for the 1988 Olympic crew, she not solely traces her personal profession as a up to date witness, but in addition supplies perception into the lifetime of a high athlete in a socialist system. Sit up for thrilling tales from childhood goals, accidents, state doping and Stasi information, to Olympic medals.
A giant thanks to Dagmar Kersten for giving us permission to translate her phrases into English, and to Kristina for offering the interpretation. You may take heed to the podcast in its authentic German on Spotify.
Episode 1 – I Went to Boarding College at Age 9
Hey everybody, welcome to my very first podcast. I’m completely happy that I’m lastly entering into the implementation, as a result of I’ve been desirous to do the podcast for 2 years and I’ve all the time discovered excuses for myself. As soon as it was the method or one way or the other I assumed I sounded bizarre, however now I actually wish to do it.
I labored on a podcast about two years in the past, which I actually loved, and that’s why I wish to fulfill my dream now. I wish to share tales from my life as a high-performance athlete, however first I wish to introduce myself.
I’m Dagmar, 51 years outdated, and I’ve really been linked to sport my entire life. My dad and mom alone made loads attainable for us. My father was an authorized sports activities coach and he all the time took us to the health club after we had been children. We might transfer round within the gear room, romped round, we went climbing and snowboarding. It was actually nice that our dad and mom made so many issues attainable for us. These days I made my very own massive dream come true by founding my very own martial arts college 10 years in the past. It’s actually an actual ardour of mine. I can educate youngsters there, I can create my very own tasks, all the pieces that I couldn’t implement in [any other] membership I can now implement rather well as a completely unbiased coach and entrepreneur. I stand on the mat from morning to nighttime and I’m actually enthusiastic about it. That’s a very nice job that I discovered and realized for myself.
However karate is definitely not the subject in any respect, as a result of I wish to speak about creative gymnastics, as a result of I additionally skilled an intense historical past as a high-performance athlete within the GDR. I’ve all the time been a fairly brilliant child. My dad and mom even put in a swing and a trapeze within the corridor as a result of they couldn’t management my urge to maneuver. Like every other youngster, I went to kindergarten as regular after which I used to be enrolled within the top notch in Cottbus. It wasn’t referred to as elementary college within the GDR again then. Throughout this time, a expertise scout got here to the varsity and seemed on the youngsters and determined who could be predestined for which sport and who would then be allowed to coach commonly within the coaching heart.
As you’ll be able to in all probability think about, I wasn’t noticed for basketball, however I got here to gymnastics with my 1.56 meters [meaning she is 5’1″]. With this sighting there was a risk that I might prepare daily in a coaching heart. It occurred in such a approach that we obtained homework supervision after college in order that we didn’t must go dwelling once more. It was a sort of after-school care heart and from there we might go straight to the health club, which was additionally the varsity health club on the time. I used to be in a position to prepare for 2 hours daily. The good factor was that it was a everlasting health club, which suggests we had gear that by no means needed to be taken down. There have been a number of uneven bars, steadiness beams, ground runners, and anybody who does gymnastics now is aware of how lengthy it takes whenever you first must arrange an entire health club with gymnastics gear. It takes quite a lot of time. We even had our personal ballet corridor with a ballet coach and our personal piano with a cliched pianist with a white scarf. Rather a lot had already been finished, the coaching teams had been comparatively small and that was fairly cool and I actually let off steam. In fact, that additionally performed into my dad and mom’ arms, as a result of I didn’t cling on the curtains at dwelling anymore. I used to be in care and will merely eliminate my power some other place.
Why was I noticed now? I feel I had actually good conditions. I used to be very small and fairly full of life. As well as, I used to be already very well-trained again then as a result of I had all the time finished quite a lot of sport with my dad and mom. It was a bonus that within the GDR you actually noticed particular abilities who had been then built-in into the coaching facilities. They don’t do this anymore. I can’t keep in mind that in Oldenburg or wherever else anybody went to the faculties and noticed the abilities there. If the dad and mom don’t actually observe alongside and see that the kid joins a membership, like my daughter and son did, then nothing occurs at first. The state itself is just not fascinated with whether or not somebody is energetic in sports activities or not. And that was the state within the GDR, in fact, as a result of they hooked up nice significance to sport, as a result of in addition they outlined themselves externally by sport. This small nation simply didn’t see so many different alternatives, I feel, and so it promoted the game extraordinarily and likewise put some huge cash into sport promotion.
Once more, for higher understanding, after I began doing gymnastics commonly I used to be six or seven years outdated, and that’s after I actually realized the fundamentals of gymnastics. Due to my good efficiency, I used to be then instructed that I be delegated to the youngsters and youth sports activities college on the age of 9, and that was tremendous cool for me as a baby. Everybody knew what a youngsters’s and youth sports activities college was. Everybody wished to go there. On the time, I couldn’t have imagined what precisely was concerned, that I might then have to depart dwelling. Properly, I simply raved about it and stated, I would like, I would like, with out actually realizing what which means.
When individuals requested me again then what my massive dream was, or somewhat, they all the time ask the youngsters, what do you wish to be whenever you develop up? Then I all the time stated I wished to be world champion. I didn’t even understand that being a world champion wasn’t a job. Properly, that is nonetheless in my head, by and thru, I wished to be a world champion in creative gymnastics. And it was very clear to me that sooner or later I might be one. As I stated earlier than, I actually didn’t know what to anticipate. I used to be delegated to the youngsters’s and youth sports activities college in Dresden, and that meant I needed to one way or the other get from Cottbus to Dresden if I wished to go there. That meant I needed to trip the prepare on my own on the age of 9. To start with, in fact, my dad and mom took me, however we didn’t have a automobile and in some unspecified time in the future they only didn’t have time to take a seat on the prepare on a regular basis. There was additionally a rail alternative service fairly often and after I was younger I had to determine how I might one way or the other get to the varsity. What’s extra, they didn’t have a telephone, so I couldn’t even allow them to know that I arrived, I simply arrived or didn’t arrive. That was how issues had been for my dad and mom, and I can think about that being very troublesome.
I’ve youngsters myself and after I think about my daughter or son having to journey to a different metropolis on the age of 9 and I don’t even know whether or not they have arrived? Unbelievable how a lot belief they really had of their youngsters. I feel you grew to become unbiased in a short time, and the dad and mom additionally handled it in another way than you do right now. I don’t understand how it’s with you. Should you think about that you’re 9 years outdated and you’re imagined to get on the prepare and you’ll’t even look in your cellular phone the place you may get to the prepare station, or which prepare or bus is operating within the alternative rail service…you needed to ask your approach by all over the place and belief the goodwill of the people who they may take you by the hand and one way or the other drag you to the subsequent bus. I feel that was a really massive problem for me.
Properly, I positively all the time arrived, however the circumstances had been simply not excellent in any respect, which then prompted my dad and mom to say that they didn’t need it that approach anymore. They had been then in a position to change me to a different metropolis and after about three months I left the sports activities college in Dresden and was in a position to go to Berlin. There it was a a lot better relationship and circumstances to develop my expertise. I used to be actually flabbergasted there at first as a result of we had an enormous sports activities discussion board. You may think about it like this, there have been the gyms and the pace skating corridor, the swimming swimming pools and athletic halls. Every little thing was comparatively shut collectively, we had our meals complicated and college complicated close by, we might additionally use the swimming swimming pools and even had our personal sports activities medication. In order that was actually one thing utterly completely different than what I had gotten to know in Dresden.
However now a bit of bit about creative gymnastics. What really is creative gymnastics? What did I select there? Inventive gymnastics is for women and men. The ladies prepare on 4 items of kit, the uneven bars, the vault (the vaulting horse is now a vaulting desk), then we’ve the steadiness beam and we’ve ground train. And the boys have six items of equipment, that are excessive bar, rings, pommel horse, ground train, vault, and parallel bars. In creative gymnastics, as a lady, you put on tight leotards, that’s the way it was in our time. After which the hair was tied again in a neat ponytail and, above all, quite a lot of worth was positioned on [how we looked on] the skin. We began doing make-up at a comparatively younger age, had a little bit of glitter and glamour, and I feel that was what I discovered actually nice as a baby and why I may need determined to do gymnastics. That’s what I keep in mind nonetheless right now, that many little gymnasts who wished to begin doing gymnastics really discovered the leotards and bows so nice, and that determined it for them.
However I feel gymnastics is without doubt one of the most complicated sports activities for me, aside from all of the glitz and glamour, since you actually must develop quite a lot of power to hold on the uneven bars or to have the ability to do excessive jumps. We’ve got to show a number of instances within the air after which ideally land on our ft and nonetheless must look very elegant on ground and beam. Should you don’t know that nicely, well-known gymnasts lately are, for instance, Elisabeth Seitz or Simone Biles, and among the many male gymnasts everybody is aware of Fabian Hambüchen. Properly, these are names that get quite a lot of press protection, and at the moment within the Nineteen Eighties I used to be one of the profitable gymnasts within the GDR.
However we aren’t there in the intervening time. That can come a lot later. I’ve simply arrived in Berlin and naturally, we additionally went dwelling on the weekends. Generally we had been allowed to depart on Friday after coaching, that was a protracted weekend, however often we drove dwelling on Saturday afternoon and all the time needed to come again on Sunday. We had been then picked up by the bus and it drove us away from dwelling. That was very troublesome for a lot of youngsters, however I began joking on the bus again then as a result of I simply didn’t need the youngsters to be so unhappy. I used to be nearly the identical age because the others, though generally I didn’t really feel so nice inside myself. In fact, I did it before everything for my mother, as a result of I observed that she discovered it troublesome to say goodbye, and that’s how I naturally developed a sure power at a younger age. Whether or not this power is a optimistic factor stays to be seen. Regardless of all that, it was a very thrilling chapter in my life. I took in all the pieces by my youngster’s eyes, all the pieces was calm and thrilling, however have to return to the tip now.
Properly, I can promise that that is solely simply getting began and I’m completely happy if I’ve made you curious and hope you’ll tune in once more for the subsequent podcast!