A.hen Aline Rotter-Focken feels two arms tear at her, her body tenses. She immediately presses her hands and feet against the floor. She pushes her eyes out of their sockets. She pushes almost anything she can push. But the arms keep tearing at her. Sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right. It goes like this for five, six, seven seconds. Maybe even more.
In moments like this, seconds must really feel like hours. And when she now presses against the floor and defends against Adeline Gray, the woman who is pulling at her, with everything she has, with her hands, with her feet and even with her eyes, she decides for Aline Rotter-Focken so much more than wrestling on the mat. When she can no longer be fooled, she will win not only the last but also the greatest fight of her life.
A few minutes earlier. It’s Monday evening, Makuhari Messe, Hall A, wrestling, women up to 76 kilograms, the final of the Olympic Games. On the mat, in a red suit, is Adeline Gray from the United States, 30 years old, five-time world champion, number one on the seeding list. Then comes Aline Rotter-Focken from Germany, also 30 years old, but only once world champion, only number two on the seeding list. The numbers say: Here comes the outsider. But she doesn’t look like one in the blue suit. She dances past the helper from the hall, who is supposed to show her the way to the mat. Why wait, she knows where she’s going. She claps with Patrick Loës, her trainer. They have been working together for ten years. Clap once more, cheer once more. Later Loës will tell how he briefly thought about the big end in the hotel room – and then quickly back to the big goal: “We wanted gold here. We don’t want silver. “
“I can’t let that be taken from me”
On the mat, Aline Rotter-Focken soon looks like gold, not silver. The referee gives her a point because Gray is wrestling too passively. 1-0. Then she parries an attack by Gray and pushes her to the ground. “If she jumps, she should take advantage of that to counter-counter, and that’s how it happened,” says Loës. 3-0. And then she even knocks Gray over. 7-0. It is only pushed out of the ring once. 7: 1. But then grab your arms.
Five, six, seven seconds. She wrestles, with Gray, with her body. Just don’t lose control. Does not she. She can break free. It’s 7: 3, but it could have been much worse. “After I turned the floor layer away, I knew: I mustn’t let that be taken from me.”
A few minutes later. Aline Rotter-Focken is standing in the interview zone with a Germany flag around her shoulders and a gold medal around her neck. She says the sentence about the location on the ground, but actually she can no longer remember the fight, the last of her career. When it was finally over after six long minutes, she dropped to her knees and cried. They are tears of happiness, of relief. That was not always so. “There were so many moments when I doubted it, cried so much and suffered and plowed so much,” she says. “It just proves that hard work pays off and that sometimes it all comes together at the right moment.”