In Translation: “Mrs. Nobody Makes a Name for Herself”


Süddeutsche Zeitung has a fantastic interview with Lisa-Katharina Hill, the one German gal who managed to keep her cool during qualifications to qualify for the all-around and bars finals after the rest of her team imploded on their best event – bars. We translated the interview to share with our non-German speaking readers because it’s a very good representation of her journey as the overlooked bar worker in 2012 to finding some time in the spotlight two years later. Enjoy!

Gymnast Lisa Hill: Mrs. Nobody Makes a Name for Herself

Less training, more success. Lisa-Katharina Hill is one of the few gymnasts for whom this approach is ideal.

In the final weekend of the World Championships in Nanning, China, the MTV Stuttgart uneven bars specialist is the only German in the spotlight in the gigantic Guangxi Sports Arena.

“I have thought about [making finals] a few times while laying in bed. And now I am really happy I can experience it for the first time,” said the 22-year-old. On Friday, she will represent the German colors in the all-around final, and on Saturday she will compete as one of the eight best in the world in the fight for a medal on the uneven bars. Her feeling is “a mixture of excitement and anticipation,” said the sandy-haired student, who “was brought as a baby to the gym” where her mother worked as a trainer.

In the all-around final, she doesn’t have any great hopes in the world-class field. “I will just enjoy everything and try to hit my routines as well as I did during qualifications,” she said of her goal. There, all of her routines were perfectly executed (and although she managed to contribute more than ever to the team, they only ranked ninth and missed the final).

“Unfortunately, my first apparatus in the all-around final, beam, isn’t so ideal for me,” she lamented. Much better are her chances on her specialty event. If she performs flawlessly on the uneven bars and the others take too many risks, she is in the top five. “We will not gambling in the finals,” says head coach Ulla Koch. “Lisa was the most consistent throughout the team’s training camp in Tokyo. She knows exactly what she needs to do. Therefore, there will be no surprises in the final for me,” praised the coach. “[In the past] she has just never showed her best exercise at the best time.”

After the disappointing qualifications, Lisa’s teammates rearranged their training schedules around Lisa’s finals and will “try to support her however possible.” Says Ulla Koch about her “Mrs. Nobody”: although she would often help the team in the past, her own ambitions were always subordinate. And although Hill was sixth [in the country] on bars in 2012, she missed the Olympics in London. This gnawed at her for a long time. “When you give everything after many years for a goal, it is disappointing to fail. I wanted time to stop,” Hill admitted.

After graduating high school in the Olympic year, she left Chemnitz, where she spent seven years learning the subtleties of high-performance gymnastics from trainer Gaby Frehse. After several months of reflection at home in Hannover, she had a spark of inspiration in January 2013 and began studying in Stuttgart, where she started up her training again at MTV. In the summer she had to deal with several foot injuries, but trained despite the problems, adding the difficult pak salto to her bar routine which helped to bring it to finals-worthy standards.

Now that she is studying business administration of mechanical engineering at the University of Esslingen, her sport is now no longer in the foreground. “I now have to compromise between gymnastics and studying. I train only once instead of twice a day, but it’s much more intense. It ended up being good for me – the fun of gymnastics is back.” And after a short pause, she adds: “and these World Championships made it all worthwhile.”

Article by Süddeutsche Zeitung

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