Berlin – Malaika Mihambo gives more than a dozen interviews that day. The first and last on the phone in the car, in between all day long with a sponsor in Wendlingen, Swabia. The 27-year-old long jump world champion and meditation fanatic does not lose her composure. “I always try to get involved in a conversation like this – as if I hadn’t had another conversation before and some questions hadn’t been asked yet,” she says. No question about it: Mihambo is one of the most famous faces of the German Olympic team.
Almost two years ago and before Corona, the athlete flew from the LG Kurpfalz as the top favorite for the World Cup to Doha and landed there at 7.30 meters and on the gold rank. This time everything is different, and not just because of the pandemic. Her dyed, originally black hair is a sign of change. “Now they are blonde – whether golden blonde, that will show up in Tokyo,” says Mihambo and smiles.
Last year was a sporting highlight for Mihambo in Berlin. On February 14, she jumped the seven meters mark in the hall for the first time at the Istaf Indoor in the arena at Ostbahnhof and set up a personal hall top line with 7.07 meters. At the end of the year she was again named Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year. She had already received this honor in 2019.
Mihambo is now considered a candidate for a medal at the Summer Games in Japan, but six jumpers have already cracked the seven-meter mark this year. Mihambo’s best distance is 6.92 meters. “My personal goal is to do my best, to show what I can do. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to do that this year. What is good is: I know that I can do it, that I’m in a good mood, that I can and will and will show it now, ”she says. “There are many good jumpers in front of me in the world’s best list, at the same time I don’t copy myself.”
The long jumper is still struggling to adjust her run, which she had shortened from 20 to 16 steps in the meantime – also due to an injury. It took her almost half a year. “I didn’t imagine it would be so hard. A lot of self-doubts arise: Can I still do that? Am i good enough Can I keep up? ”She explains openly. She has come into a position in which she feels like the hunted – instead of the hunter. Seven meters? “I have no doubt that I can achieve that.”
Malaika Mihambo trains in Miyazaki
From this week on, the athlete will get the very last polish before the summer games from national coach Uli Knapp in the training camp of the German Athletics Association in Miyazaki, Japan. The long jump qualification in Tokyo is on August 1st, the medal awarding on August 3rd. “It would be great to end this tough time with something nice,” says Mihambo.
The native of Heidelberg sees the value of an Olympic medal in Tokyo “rather increased because the conditions are much more difficult than in a normal year”. In 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Mihambo sailed just past bronze in fourth with 6.94 meters. Only one German athlete has ever jumped further than her triumph in Qatar – Heike Drechsler in 1988 with 7.48 meters.
As a student of environmental science, Mihambo is considered a political person. Her father comes from Zanzibar, her mother from Germany. In childhood she was hostile to the color of her skin. The daily newspaper Die Welt once told it. “A student who had a politically right-wing family member told the teacher that he doesn’t want to sit in a circle next to me. The teacher then told me to sit down. That was particularly hard for me. ”It is unlikely that she will use the stage at the Olympic Games – like many footballers recently at the European Championship – for a publicity campaign against racism.
Can she imagine kneeling down before or after a competition? “I think it’s very nice when athletes do that, when they stand up for greater values that are simply forgotten in places,” says Mihambo. “I can’t make friends with these grand gestures myself. That doesn’t feel like me right now. So I wouldn’t do that as of today. That can of course change. ”She would rather give impetus in interviews – and if the same questions come up over and over again.