I.At some point Alma Bestvater felt like a roller coaster. It went up and down, both of which involved intense feelings, and she had almost no influence on either. The wild ride had started on March 1st. Alma Bestvater injured her elbow in an internal competition. Suspected internal ligament rupture. The diagnosis was confirmed, the fear came true – an operation was necessary. At the latest, it was clear for the climber Alma Bestvater: it would be nothing with her dream of Olympia. At least not at the Olympic premiere of the climbers at the games in Tokyo. Because the last chance to qualify, the European Championship in Moscow, was scheduled for the end of March.
It was a big blow to Alma Bestvater. “I was very busy that I could not be good enough to qualify in Moscow,” says the 24-year-old German champion. “But I never thought that it could happen that I couldn’t even start. That I wouldn’t have a chance to fight for it anymore. “
It was only a week before there was new hope. The climbing EM in Moscow was postponed due to the corona crisis. First for an indefinite period, then for a new date: in June. The next disappointment. “That would certainly not have been enough for me.” In the meantime, the Olympic Games themselves have been postponed by a year; the continental title fights in Moscow are now to take place in October. As of now. That would mean: Alma Bestvater would be back in the game. “I could just do it that way until I reach the sporting level again.”
It was a difficult week after the injury for the Weimar native, and at times there was total standstill. “I still wrote all the exams at the end of February,” says the sports science student who moved to Munich two years ago. “Then the injury happened. Then there was the lockdown. Everything that I had previously dealt with suddenly stopped working. ”Then she started doing stretching and yoga again. Recently, since training halls and the Olympic base in Munich are open again, she has started climbing again. It will probably take another two months before she can fully load the arm again, for example when jumping. But it could be enough for a last attempt towards the Olympics.
Alma Bestvater has invested a lot in this goal. The bouldering specialist entered the world class in 2018 with two finals in the World Cup. The following winter, she switched to training and began to prepare for the Olympic triathlon with national coach Urs Stöcker, the combination of bouldering (climbing at jump height), lead (climbing with rope) and speed (climbing a fixed route on time). A time-consuming affair. “I’ve never climbed speed before,” she says. “But I imagined it worse.” She became the first German to complete the standard route under 10 seconds – which also had to do with the fact that the discipline was not very popular in Germany before.
In the meantime, Alma Bestvater has improved the German record to 8.6 seconds. “Alma has developed very well in terms of speed and is one of the top ten in the world among the combiners,” says Stöcker. The problem is rope climbing. “It still has huge potential,” says Stöcker. But Alma Bestvater is also in the same dilemma as all other top climbers: If you want to be the world leader in three disciplines, you have to compromise, set priorities and balance strong and weak disciplines as best as possible. At the European Championships in Moscow, only one starting place will be allocated for the Olympics.
Alma Bestvater narrowly missed the qualification competition in November (Toulouse, France), for which the top 20 climbers were allowed to compete in the World Cup. “It has realistic opportunities,” says Stöcker, who looks after her at the Munich base. “She is not one of the top favorites, but that can be mentally an advantage.” In addition, one of her competitors is training for Tokyo Square, the Serbin Stasa Gejo, in Munich. “There she has a certain yardstick,” says Stöcker, “and the two can push each other.”
For Alma Bestvater, Olympia was “always a huge goal,” and it still is. “As long as I can do it somehow, I’ll stick to it. But ultimately it depends on when the European Championship takes place and whether I am fit. ”And of course on whether the Olympics 2021 can take place in Tokyo at all. These are strange times, even for top athletes, times when you don’t have a lot in your own hands. “The goals have been lost a bit,” says Alma Bestvater. “As an athlete you usually train for something, the training plan is geared towards the day when I have to perform at my best.” Now there are above all question marks.
And if there is nothing left with the Olympic dream in Tokyo? A new start in Paris in 2024? There, two medals will be distributed in climbing, one in speed, one in a combination of bouldering and lead. “But for that I would still have to train two disciplines intensively,” says Alma Bestvater. And again for three years. She has now learned how much time, energy and strength it takes. “I could also imagine focusing on the Bouldering World Cup and using the other half of the year for rock climbing.” Because the rock comes very short in the competition season, the physical requirements are too different. “I still find the Olympia destination very appealing,” says Alma Bestvater. “But the other side too.” It is now important for her that she can climb again. And the roller coaster ride has come to an end.