Turnen, 10/83

The 35th GDR Championships held in Cottbus were mainly a pleasant affair. For the first time, Jens Fischer won his first all-around gold medal, and stood another four times at the top of the podium. Sylvio Kroll finished second and won high bar - a success for these gymnasts from Cottbus. Together, this successful duo won exactly half of the twenty medals that were awarded. In a championship that had offered a lot of interesting questions, the students of coaches Gerhard Ahlisch and Fred Naumann were the highlights of the competition. In Cottbus, the largest rate of development has been struck at the men's training centers. "This commendable work has been done. A call is made to clubs in Potsdam, Berlin, Halle and Leipzig, to establish their talents faster as well," said national trainer Dieter Hoffmann.

Jens Fischer (born 16 June 1963) is the youngest overall champion ever, and Sylvio Kroll is just 18 years old. Fischer, who arrived in Cottbus six years ago from Dresden, and Kroll, who was raised in Lubben, were two gymnats among the 23 competitors who had the biggest performance gains. The new title holder competed in his third championships and was able to celebrate after 9th place in 1981 and 4th place in 1982. He won five titles, just behind the record of champion Klaus Koste, who captured 6 golds in 1968.

Kroll, this year's junior friendship tournament winner in vault, and 3rd in the same discipline at the 1982 Jr. European Championships, improved six places from his finish last year. He scored over four points more than last year.

Fischer totalled 114.85 points, the second-highest score in the history of the GDR Championships. Only Koste (115.60 in 1968) scored more. A number of other young gymnasts gave a cautious sign. We will have to be patient with such talents as Norbert Tronick, Stan Koplin-Fritsche, Jorge Hasse and Holger Reier.

A Duel for the AA Title Between the Girls

The number of gymnasts for the line up was unusually small. Only eight gymnasts competed (there were 25 in 1982), and Katharina Rensch withdrew after compulsories during a training injury. Four-time champion Maxi Gnauck and Franka Voigt (beam champion in 1982) were injured and watched from the audience. Gabriele Fahnrich (5th AA in 1982) and Rikki Danz were not there for the same reason. Diana Morawe withdrew immediately prior to the competition due to illness. Also, this year only those gymnasts who are old enough to compete in Budapest (born 1968 and older) took part.

In the end, youth dominated here, too. Sylvia Rau (15 years old) and Astrid Heese (15 on 21 September) succeeded after their successful debut at the European Championships in May, and now they have finally made a breakthrough to the national framework.

The two students of coach Jurgen Heritz fought a thriling duel for the title. Before the final event, the gymnast from ASK had the lead. Then, she failed on her Tsukahara on floor, and her dream of AA gold was over.

The champion-to-be went to the uneven bars where she performed a Deltchev salto for the first time. On floor, she showed new choreography.

Astrid Heese's beam was a highlight of the preliminary session, as was her vault in finals (both 9.8). Bronze went to Birgit Senff, who returned to competition after a nearly two-year break. The 17-year-old from Leipzig scored 9.9 for her vault and was less than 0.2 points away from first place until she lost ground on floor.

Other gymnasts competed after a long absence for the first time in their own country: Katharina Rensch, unfortunately only in compulsories, after three years; uneven bars junior European champion Bettina Schieferdecker (15 years old); and Anett Lindner, Moscow world championships team member, after a year break. Her comeback, and a series of original and challenging elements and exercises, such as a Horide vault and Senff's new uneven bars mount (round-off, back flip over the low bar to a kip) were highlights of the women's competition.

On the negative side is the fact that not a single gymnast was able to finish the competition without a fall. Even Sylvia Rau was no exception. She fell twice from beam, and you have to go back to 1977 to find a lower score for the all-around winner. In uneven bars finals, every gymnast fell. Similarly, but in diminished form, this also applies to the men. Kroll and Jensch both showed a Deltchev salto from 1-arm giamt on high bar, and Fischer vaulted a full-twisting Cuervo. But almost all of them had problems with consistency.