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05 July 2015 | in Universiade 2015, Summer FISU World University Games, Artistic Gymnastics

Rushing the Universiade



Helge Liebrich (Photo by P. Mocnik, adh)GWANGJU - Helge Liebrich is in a hurry. Only one and a half weeks before the lighting of the flame of the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade the German gymnast learned that he was nominated for the German delegation as an additional candidate.

It all went really fast, I was surprised and happy at the same time. This was my last chance to go to a Universiade and Im glad it worked out. My performance at the German University Championships was the deciding factor, says Liebrich. Originally Pia Tolle was nominated for Women’s Artistic Gymnastic. But at the German University Championships she didn’t have a convincing performance. On the one hand Im sorry for Pia, on the other hand the German University Sports Federation (adh) didnt want to forfeit the Universiade spot. Director of Sport Thorsten Hütsch was able put me on the nomination list.

Liebrich joined World University Sport Athlete Fabian Hambüchen and Fabian Lotz to make it three German gymnasts exercising in the single’s events in Gwangju – enough to also form a team and participate in the team competition as well.

For the prospective teacher who is studying Sport, German, Informatics, and Biology at the college of education in Schwäbisch Gmünd it is the second Universiade after Kazan in 2013. Two years ago he reached the fourth place with the German team. This time it’s more difficult. Since the adh nominated only three athletes, all of them have to perform all exercises – no mistakes allowed. Something Helge Liebrich knew he had to deal with when he entered the plane to Korea. But something else surprised him like all other athletes at the team finals. It took us only 27 minutes to complete floor exercise, pommel horse and rings. We didnt get have time to take a breath because the officials were already calling the next athlete. In Kazan the whole competition took one hour and 20 minutes. In Gwangju we were under 10 minutes per exercise. Ive never experienced anything like that, explains Liebrich.

The hurry will probably continue in the second part of the team finals. For Helge Liebrich that’s not a problem, he’s getting used to it. But alongside all the rush, the second Universiade participation also allows him some moments to soak in the atmosphere of university sport. In 2013 in Kazan due to a competition in the next morning he had to leave the opening ceremony right after the march pass. This time he stayed for the whole ceremony. A slow-down moment he will never forget.


Max Länge (GER), FISU Young Reporter