The last Instagram pictures by Tim Lobinger show the once muscular world-class athlete tender and slim, the former curly head usually covered with a cap or hat. The very last photo shows a blue sweater with his youngest son Okkert written on it, a heart and the word "Dad". Among them, since the death of the former pole vaulter and track and field star, the expressions of grief have been piling up. "Now your soul flies," wrote one fan.
The 50-year-old's death from cancer caused great dismay in athletics, in all of German sport - even with one of the most well-known current national soccer players.
"It's not easy to put into words what you were and will always be to me. I admired you more than anyone else," Joshua Kimmich wrote on Instagram. Lobinger was Kimmich's personal coach, the two met in 2013 at RB Leipzig, where Lobinger worked as an athletic trainer. They later continued their work in Munich.
"Always looked up to you"
"I've always looked up to you because you are an inspiration and a role model for me in all areas of life. You were and will remain my drive, my motor and my motivation," added the Bayern professional. "Every single memory of our time together not only makes me smile, but also makes me happy with all my heart. I am infinitely grateful to you for everything. Your values will always shape and accompany me. You will always be there."
Lobinger was not only captain of the national athletics team in international competitions for many years, but also spokesman for the athletes at the DLV. "I experienced Tim from an early age, we always had an understanding for each other," said his long-time colleague Dieter Baumann, 5000-meter Olympic champion in 1992, the German Press Agency. "It's a big loss, he was a great colleague and great guy, always positive."
"Sooo sad. RIP dear Tim," wrote former javelin world champion Christina Obergföll. Ex-high jumper Ariane Friedrich says: "Damn! I wished you so many more great days and moments and now you're gone. Much too early dear Tim."
Long fight against leukemia
Lobinger, who last lived in Munich, had been battling leukemia for years, but neither chemotherapy nor a stem cell transplant helped. Last fall he told the "Bild" newspaper: "There will be no more healing for me. My cancer is too aggressive." The family's widespread statement said: "The former pole vault legend fell asleep peacefully in a small circle, he did not lose the fight, but won in his own way."
The multiple German champion leaves behind three children, his older son Lex-Tyger is a professional soccer player with the second division club 1. FC Kaiserslautern. At the end of last year, his daughter Fee gave birth to a girl. "I always wanted to become a young grandpa," he recently told the magazine "Bunte".
"Now you are no longer in pain," wrote long-distance runner Sabrina Mockenhaupt. The long-time president of the German Athletics Association, Clemens Prokop, praised Lobinger as the "Sonnyboy of sport". Lobinger "showed great empathy for the interests of others. But we had fun even in difficult negotiations," said Prokop about the former athletes from ASV Cologne, Bayer Leverkusen and LG Stadtwerke Munich. "He was uncomfortable but had a very, very high level of respect from everyone."
As the first German over six meters
In 1997, Lobinger was the first German pole vaulter to break the six-meter mark outdoors, and in 2003 he was world champion indoors. He was denied a medal at the Olympics. "He was anything but the smooth athlete," said Prokop about the opinionated athlete, who also dominated the show in his spectacular sport.
Lobinger messed with everyone - if he had to. At the 2003 World Cup finals in Monaco, he argued with the judges and later even showed his bare bottom after his victory. Of course there was a fine from the world association IAAF. "R.I.P. Tim, you've always stayed true to yourself. I wish you had shown your bare ass to the damn cancer. Take care, old friend," wrote former sprinter Marc Blume.