After the full-throttle World Championships with four medals in seven days, Lea Sophie Friedrich was ready for vacation. "Two weeks in Ibiza and France, I'm already looking forward to that," said the 23-year-old after she narrowly missed the World Championship throne in the supreme sprint discipline at the end of the track cycling competitions in Glasgow's Chris Hoy Velodrome.
But that should hardly diminish their World Cup record, especially with a view to the 2024 Olympics: "The tailwind for Paris is very strong. I'm very happy to take the tournament with me and will draw new strength from it. I'll come out of the competition stronger."
Gold in the team sprint, silver in the individual sprint and two bronzes each in the keirin and in the 500-meter time trial - Friedrich delivered in Glasgow. The native of Mecklenburg also seems to have taken another step mentally. "I also know that the opponents are always looking at you because they know that we Germans have always been consistently at the top. You can tell that too. You have to incorporate that tactically," explained the eight-time world champion.
Balance of power in the team shifted
Gradually, the balance of power in the German team seems to have shifted a bit. In the past, Friedrich was more successful in the slipstream of the model sprinter Emma Hinze, who was two years his senior, but she currently makes a more stable impression. Hinze sprinted past a medal in fourth place, as before in the keirin, and was disappointed: "Fourth place hurts. It reminded me of the Olympics. At first I had a sense of déjà vu." The air was out after her two titles in the team sprint and over 500 meters.
After all, Hinze experienced the mood dampener a year before the Olympics. She arrived in Tokyo as a three-time world champion, which seemed like a huge ballast on her shoulders. In the end it was "only" enough for silver in the team sprint with Friedrich. "In sport, victory and defeat are close together. I also know how it feels when you win," said the native of Hildesheim.
High level in the women's sprint
National coach Jan van Eijden referred to the now high level in the women's sprint. Even if Friedrich and Hinze, each with eight gold medals, are still one title behind van Eijden's former coached top sprinter Victoria Pendleton from Great Britain, they are "above that in terms of performance".
That was a different era 15 years ago and not comparable. "In 2008 there were three or four women who competed for medals, now it's 10 or 15," said van Eijden. Incidentally, the record world champion is Kristina Vogel, who is now a paraplegic with eleven world titles, as is the Australian Anna Meares.
The sprinters are on target, that just has to be refined before the Olympics in order to achieve the absolute top level, says van Eijden. He has even more work to do with his sprinters. There was no medal in Glasgow.