Pauline Schäfer-Betz stands on the podium, ready for her exercise.

It's about the world title on the balance beam.

She has to wait because the judges are busy with other things.

She is instructed to leave the podium again.

Then it finally starts.

Less than an hour later it is clear: Pauline Schäfer-Betz is vice world champion on the bar.

Only the Japanese Urara Ashikawa is better.

Schäfer-Betz had already said in advance that she was not really interested in the competition's exercises: “I can only influence my own performance.” When she starts her exercise, it looks for a moment as if she's out of the long waiting time brought: After the initial combination, she has to correct slightly.

But after that everything works out.

Schäfer-Betz demonstrates the high art on the narrow beam: acrobatics, gymnastic jumps and turns of the highest difficulty, combined and performed in such a way that it looks effortless, somehow very easy.

Six years after winning the bronze medal and four years after becoming world champion in Melbourne, now silver at the age of 24.

Schäfer-Betz has succeeded in concentrating entirely on himself.

"Yes, it is difficult"

Not an easy task given the conditions in Kitakyuhsu, Japan: The strictest corona regulations meant that the athletes only saw their hotel room and the gym. That meant a week without fresh air. How it could still happen that a gymnast who tested positive went into the competition, the world federation does not see itself responsible for. Questions about this will not be answered by the local organizing committee either.

In addition, the gymnastics equipment from a previously unknown Chinese manufacturer meant a change for all athletes. Some even broke with the men. There were also some competitions that lasted over an hour longer than the schedule allowed. As a result, a number of associations complained about the inadequate organization. "Yes, it's difficult," Pauline Schäfer-Betz confirmed after qualifying: "But we're trying to make the best of it."

Concentrating on yourself is a task that has been important to Pauline Schäfer-Betz not only since Japan. It was she who, together with other gymnasts, initiated a debate in Germany last November about unacceptable training methods. After breaking up with her trainer, she stayed in Chemnitz and is now training at KTV Chemnitz, actually the city's men's club.

Schäfer-Betz was openly attacked from the camp of her old club, which is still partly behind the coach, who has been suspended by the German Gymnastics Federation.

When asked how much this burdened her, she replied: “I still get hostility.

That's why it was important for me to concentrate on myself and to fade that out as best I could.

That was a challenge, but I think the result speaks for itself. "

"A few challenges"

Schäfer-Betz is now being looked after by Kay-Uwe Temme, who had previously looked after the male offspring. "We were both very happy that we could experience this together," says the only German starter. “Of course it also presented us with a few challenges, simply because he had never experienced it like this before.” It was the first world championship for Temme and the sixth for his gymnast.

The DTB could be grateful to Pauline Schäfer-Betz. Above all for her courage to be the only active gymnast to have openly reported grievances, although there were also indications from other bases. Above all, her stories about how she had been put under psychological pressure and harassed by her former trainer for years had led to the German Gymnastics Federation now committing itself to a "cultural change". But also in terms of sport. The sports soldier had prepared for this world championship after a break of a few weeks after the Olympic Games.

She wanted to show that she can do better, she said at the beginning of the week, looking back on Tokyo, where she did not make it into the bar finals: "For me personally, this World Cup is very important." other German gymnasts are currently not competitive internationally. As a consequence, they were not even nominated.

Unlike the German men, of whom only the 34-year-old Andreas Bretschneider showed a proper exercise on the horizontal bar.

Rank 31 in the all-around competition as well as equipment placements between rank 25 and 62: That is the disastrous result in a field in which a number of international top stars did not even start.

National coach Valeri Belenki commented that the gymnasts had “overall delivered good results”.

The new DTB sports director Thomas Gutekunst stated that some had "presented themselves very well".

Gym camp on Monday

For Pauline Schäfer-Betz, it goes straight from the plane back to the gym.

A first gymnastics camp begins on Monday in Chemnitz, which she set up together with her partner Andreas Bretschneider in order to pass on her experiences.

Girls and boys from different federal states will be there.

She would also like to compete again in 2022: first at the European Championships in Munich and then at her seventh World Cup in Liverpool.

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