The Victory of the Guy from Gera

Turnen, 8/84

The big man at the 1972 Spartakiade twelve years ago was Roland Bruckner. But still in our memory is a stocky, strong vaulter who finished 2nd six times: Bernd Jensch. His gymnastics way to the top was cumbersome and not as quick as that of Bruckner. A car accident in 1976 prevented him from a chance at the Olympics, and in 1980 he had a complicated back injury. Last October, though, he was crowned with a bronze medal at the Budapest world championships, the first world medal of his career. Hans-Jurgen Zeume interviewed him during the USSR dual meet in Potsdam.

Q: What feeling was it for you to stand beside Artur Akopyan and Li Ning on the Budapest podium?

A: Unspeakable pride and satisfaction in myself. I just looked at our flag, still stunned that I was standing there. I will not forget this moment in my entire life.

Q: You scored 9.95 points for the piked front salto with half twist, and even a 10 for the stretched full twisting Tsukahara. Did you ever get a 10 before?

A: It was the first 10 in my life. For the first time ever, I vaulted two vaults so well. Incidentally, I relearned the second vault in September 1983 so I would be prepared in case I made it to finals

Q: How did you sleep the night before event finals?

A: Really well and long.

Q: What did you think of your chances?

A: I had the eighth-best score and could only get better. This was my only chance, so I dared everything and was rewarded.

Q: Who did you wave to after your two vaults?

A: My long-time coach, Werner Schenk. What a day it was for him, too.

Q: I understand that you worked on your landings in particular?

A: That's right. I vaulted again and again in practice and tried to land perfectly each time.

Q: Who was your role model in gymnastics?

A: At the very beginning it was Klaus Koste. I attended the same Frankfurt sports school as he once did, and later on I often saw him in competitions. Even when he was wrestling with his "mature" age, he still competed energetically and successfully. In this regard, he was a great example for me all the way to Budapest.

Q: In what countries have you competed?

A: In no particular order - Poland, CSSR, USSR, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cuba, England, USA, Norway, France, Austria, Japan, Italy and Spain.

Q: You are studying Sports. What career are you planning?

A: I want to work as a coach.

Q: Do you want to stay in Potsdam?

A: Yes. My wife and my little daughter, who was born on July 23, have recently moved to a neat new apartment in Potsdam.

Q: Where is your world championships medal?

A: In a box in the bookcase in our living room.

Q: Looking back at all of your competitions, which one was the most important in your career?

A: Certainly, the 1973 Junior Friendship Tournament was my best competition. I won four gold medals there. One of my competitors there was, incidentally, Alexander Dityatin of the Soviet team. He was the gymnast whom the rest of us measured ourselves against. I was glad that I could compete with him at the 1981 Moscow world championships, his final meet.