competing in big competitions. Of course, it
feels very nice to be successful, and of course, I
hate to perform badly.
Seizing the moment
By John Crumlish
THE timing was perfect for Germany’s Elisabeth Seitz during the all-around final at the European championships held in Berlin in April. Seitz, who heretofore had earned her best international results on uneven bars, seized the moment and produced a foursome of routines that won her the silver medal. The 17-year-old Seitz also
earned the German women their first Europeans all-around medal since East
Germany’s Maxi Gnauck took silver in 1985. In this IG exclusive interview,
Seitz reflects on her recent success and projects her hopes for her own competitive future, and the future of her German team.
How are you coping with the fame you now
have? And, what is your perspective on the
expectations that the German public and
team have for you in future competitions?
I enjoy the fame. In fact, it was a bit stressful
after the European championships, but very
exciting, though. But in Germany people aren’t
as enthusiastic about gymnastics as in the U.S.,
for example, so it’s not really difficult to cope
with the fame. It’s very nice, actually. I was
congratulated by our Chancellor, Angela
Merkel, which I’m very proud of.
What has made you particularly strong on
bars, over the other events?
I think it’s because I love to fly. My turns are
not the best, so I have to fly. At the Europeans
last year I saw (France’s) Youna Dufournet
doing the Def (full-twisting Gienger), and I said I
wanted to learn this, too. Our head coach (Ulla
Koch) said, “Hmm, I don’t know if this is such
a good idea.” Then I tried it.
I’m focused on all four events, of course, but
I love flying, so bars is my favorite. It is not
hard to spend time on the other events just
because I like bars the most. I love gymnastics
with the four apparatus.
What did you learn from Rotterdam?
Now I do a giant before the Def, because when
the handstand isn’t good, I do my giant and it’s
better. (Overall) now I know how it is, how the
training is before a competition, and how everything around Europeans or worlds is. So I can
sometimes help the younger ones with how it
is. But it’s something new every time, because
every time it’s a new city and sometimes new
We understand that you have a pre-compe-
tition ritual at a shop in your hometown.
Well, it’s kind of a book shop and shop for esoteric things—horoscopes, meditation, stones,
tea and things like that. It’ s located in
Altlussheim, a little village, where I live.
I’m not into these things; I’d rather believe in
my talents and my preparation. But one day my
mother and I went into this shop to look for a
present for a friend of hers. In this shop there
is a big wheel of fortune. All around the wheel
there are little paper bags with little stones and
oracles in them. That day, which was the day
before my first German senior championships
(2009), we decided to turn the wheel—just for
fun, of course. The first oracle was a bad one,
and I gave it to my mother. The second turn
was a good one. It said “You’ll be very success-
ful, when you believe in yourself.”
Well, I finished my first German champi-
onships as a senior with three second places: all
around, floor and beam. After this first big suc-
cess I decided to turn the wheel whenever I
have a big competition.
How was your performance at the 2010
world championships in Rotterdam different from the one at the 2009 w orlds in
I was in London just to see how world championships are. It was also not a team but an individual competition. I got 27th (all-around in
qualifications). It was good, but Rotterdam was
much better. It was a surprise for me to make
the bars final in Rotterdam, because I wanted to
show my routine with the Def, and just wanted
to do well. I didn’t think I could become a finalist.
What exactly will you be working on for the
best possible results at this fall’s world
Well, I have already worked on the improvement of my D-Scores, especially on bars and
vault. For the world championships I will have
to get them more precise on every apparatus. If
this works out in time, I’ll hopefully be able to
add some difficulties to my program. First I’ll
have to improve my present program and make
it more solid. Then try to add new elements,
and perhaps a better second vault. I think there
is still a bit to improve on my “old” routines.
What do you think it will take for Germany
to qualify for the London Olympics?
We need a good team, and as the European
championships have shown, we are on a good
way. We’d been very unlucky with injuries.
These have been overcome so far. Also, we
have new juniors who will join the senior team.
And, due to the European championships, we
feel very confident. IG
“I’m focused on
The final in Rotterdam was a bit of a disaster for you. What went wrong?
I did the Shaposhnikova to the Stalder-half, and
it wasn’t in a handstand. I tried to do the Def
(immediately after the Stalder-half), but because
of not being in the handstand, it didn’t work. I
was a bit nervous, and then the second element
(toe on-piked Tkatchev) also didn’t work.
You quickly adjusted to the pressure of
high-level competition and came a way with
the silver medal in Berlin. To what do you
attribute your ability to perform close to
your best, with not much experience in
major all-around finals?
I can’t really say. I admire gymnasts like (world
all-around champion) Aliya Mustafina and many
other great gymnasts, but I still have confidence
in what I’m doing. I say to myself that I want to
give my best. I know that I’m well prepared.
Last but not least, I love gymnastics and I love
all four events, of
course, but I love
flying, so bars is