Lea Sophie Friedrich let out a loud whoop of joy and slapped her handlebars with joy. Then the tears flowed furioso at the top German sprinter after a final. At the end of the Track Cycling World Championships on the Olympic track in Paris, Friedrich was once again crowned Keirin World Champion.
With two gold medals and one silver medal, the only 22-year-old exceptional athlete has become a star in the German team and has already won her seventh world championship title.
“I’ve never cried like that, I don’t even know what to say? Defending the title is just so nice. I knew if I died the last lap it could be enough. I didn’t want to wait and then lose. It’s very, very nice to have won another gold medal,” said Friedrich.
Friedrich, who drove a brilliant sprint over two laps from the front on Sunday on the wooden oval in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, also surpassed her teammate Emma Hinze. The 25-year-old had already packed her things on Saturday and prematurely ended her World Cup appearance.
In any case, 659 days before the Olympic track cycling competitions, Friedrich is prepared, although the German sprint stars were no longer as dominant as in the past two years. “Allez les Bleus” rang out a few times in the French witches’ cauldron, but in the end Friedrich cheered again.
Hinze had already ended the World Cup chapter after her scheduled title in the 500-meter time trial had been snatched away the day before by the only 20-year-old Frenchwoman Marie-Divine Kouamé. “I realize that my body has given me a sign and I just have to accept it. It doesn’t do me any good if I only run backwards afterward,” Hinze said, explaining her waiver of the final keirin discipline.
Two-time world champions Roger Kluge and Theo Reinhardt clearly missed another coup on Sunday in a two-man team drive. After 50 kilometers, the European champions only managed eighth place. “It was a world-class field. It was fun, but there were a lack of nuances at the end,” said Kluge. Here, too, France triumphed through Donavan Grondin and Benjamin Thomas. The Olympic host is ready for the Olympics – also supported by the frenetic audience.
Hinze and Co. got a foretaste of what could happen in 2024. She not only had to fight against two strong French rivals, but also against 5,000 spectators who frenetically cheered the weaker times of the German top favorite Hinze compared to her victorious favorite Marie-Divine Kouamé in the 500-meter time trial on Saturday.
Unfair or just French national pride? Hinze did not want to deal with this question. “I only noticed the noise level before and after. I can not change it. When we drive in Berlin, the public is on our side. You have to deal with it,” said the Hildesheim native. National coach Jan van Eijden saw it in a similar way: “The question is: is the audience for the French or against the Germans? That is a matter of interpretation. If you’re in Colombia, it’s similar. It’s similar with the British.”
The title fights ended with three golds, three silvers and one bronze for the German team. “We are very happy with the result. I think we’re on the right track,” concluded BDR sports director Patrick Moster. Nevertheless, there is still homework to be done – especially for the men who only got a medal from the 36-year-old Kluge. “At the moment the women support us very strongly and are the mainstay, but that will certainly not be the case in the long term,” said Moster.