Germany’s Voss on Tokyo: ‘Getting A Spot On The Team Is Harder Than Ever’

Written by John Crumlish for International Gymnast Online

Monday, April 19, 2021

Facing this week’s European Championships in Basel with revised routines, German gymnast Sarah Voss is anticipating that her updates will be enough to land her a spot on her country’s four-woman team for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.

Born October 21, 1999, in Frankfurt am Main, Voss made her first senior international strides in 2018. She finished fourth on vault at the 2018 Europeans in Glasgow, and competed on vault and balance in the team final at the 2018 World Championships in Doha, in which Germany finished eighth.

Voss sprung forth as a German all-around leader when she placed first all-around, first on vault and first on balance beam at the 2019 German Championships. She went on to finish 10th all-around and seventh on balance beam at the 2019 Worlds in Stuttgart, where the German women’s ninth-place finish in qualifications earned them the last team berth for Tokyo.

In this International Gymnast Online interview, Voss details her evolution in the last part of the Olympic cycle, and her aspirations for Basel and Tokyo.

IGO: After a very successful 2019 followed by the pandemic, how have your managed to restore your program and regain your competitive confidence in time for Europeans?

SV: The year 2019 was my career high so far. I had amazing achievements, becoming German all-around champion, which was my dream since I was a little gymnast, and being selected for the Worlds team for Stuttgart definitely boosted up my confidence. Especially with the results of qualifying a team for the Olympics and getting to experience an all-around final and beam final alongside my idols, it was just incredible.

Therefore, 2020 was kind of heartbreaking for me, but I still tried to see long-term and have my goals right in front of me and in my heart. I set new goals for me in training so I would have to push myself to get a few skills or routines ready until a certain date, which helped me staying focused.

My program for this year is totally different to what I did in 2019. I have a completely new beam and floor routines with some new upgrades, as well as some upgrades on bars – especially on bars, because it was my weakest event of all four. Now it’s time to present not everything but my two strongest events, beam and vault, to get some competition experience and get more confident in my program. The past year was pretty bumpy, so I am very happy to have the chance to get to the Europeans to take another step towards my goal of the Olympics.

IGO: You made a remarkable leap between 2018 and 2019, going from performing on some events at the 2018 Worlds to 10th place all around at the 2019 Worlds. To what factors do you attribute your improvement in the period of one year, not only in your routines but in becoming one of Germany’s most reliable all-arounders?

SV: That’s so nice to hear. I really worked hard to get where I am today. As I look back, times were even harder because I was just in the middle of graduation and had a lot of school work to do, which made it nearly impossible to train as a long as I was used to. So I decided to put school in the center and make it my priority. With that decision I trained in much shorter periods but in a more effective way. I knew I didn’t have much time for training and school was exhausting me, but I always made the most of every session and gave it my all. Even though the sessions were hard and it seemed like it wasn’t working out, I kept going on. That was the key. As the pressure of school faded away, I had full focus on my training and everything became easier. So the hard work paid off and I was perfectly prepared for nationals, which was, by the way, a big competition after eight months.

IGO: Who are your coaches these days?

SV: My coaches are Shanna Poljakova, Yevghenij Shalin and Pia Tolle. Shanna  manages everything around me, writes my plans and comes to all of my competitions. Yevghenij is my coach for everything around acrobatics and vault. He was a very good gymnast in tumbling. He spots me everywhere and works alongside Shanna. And lastly there is Pia Tolle, a former successful gymnast on the national team who coaches me on beam, and gives me great advice on my choreography on beam and floor. She is always fun, and I love to work with her.

IGO: Especially in this Olympic year, the competition for spots on the German team, especially as an all-arounder, is tough. is How does Basel fit into your plans to prove yourself as worthy of a spot on the team for Tokyo?

SV: Getting a spot on the Olympic team is harder than ever. You have to have a high-level program on every event, which is super hard. Now, with the upcoming Europeans, it’s my chance to get some more experience with my new routines which will help me to get more confident in the Olympic trials. For sure the Europeans are a great opportunity to test us and see who can be an enrichment for the team, but it’s not yet the competition to tell who of us is going to be on the team. Even though everyone knows that there is no way around Elisabeth Seitz and Kim Bui, it is still pretty exciting who will be in the third and fourth spots on the team.

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