Katharina Bauer’s special story: Only the defibrillator makes the Olympics possible

Katharina Bauer’s special story
Only the defibrillator makes the Olympics possible

Katharina Bauer is one of the best German pole vaulters. But the athlete is not only an exceptional figure because of her achievements. She competes with a defibrillator. It’s not the only challenge that the 30-year-old has mastered.

“I am a fighter,” says Katharina Bauer. And anyone who knows her story knows that it is not just talked about. Several heart operations, a broken wrist, worse herniated disc. But Bauer is still there, the pole vaulter with defibrillator even wants to go to the Olympic Games in Tokyo (July 23rd to August 8th). “I know what I got through,” says Bauer: “And I know that I am strong.”

Bauer’s life is a lot about adversity and setbacks, but even more about never giving up, not losing hope and holding onto your dreams. Because in spite of everything, “I noticed, no matter what happened to me: It goes on and on, you always have to stick with it,” says the 30-year-old: “And at some point, day X comes when the sun is shining and you laugh again can.”

Bauer has to master a height of 4.70 meters for the Olympics, at 4.65 meters is the best performance of the German indoor champion of 2018 – Bauer has had a heart condition since childhood. “When I was seven years old, an examination found that I had additional heartbeats, around 5,000 to 7,000 a day. That was still relatively safe, it just had to be monitored,” says Bauer.

The parents don’t slow down little Katharina, they encourage her. “My mom always said to me: You get a lot of love, you are healthy, and you are wonderful the way you are. You have always supported me,” says Bauer. After graduating from high school, the first heart operation. The shock followed eight years later. Bauer applied to the German Armed Forces in 2016, and the health check revealed “that the number of extra heartbeats has risen to 18,000 – which is life-threatening,” says Bauer. The next operation will follow in 2017, “to allow the areas in the heart muscle where the additional beats occur to be deserted.”

The best day of her life is yet to come

That goes well for half a year, but the extra strokes increase again dramatically, yet she becomes German champion. “With an EKG, however, a stroke was found that can trigger sudden cardiac death. You cannot operate on that, this risk is always there,” says Bauer: “You can only protect the patient – and therefore the decision to use the defibrillator. “

Bauer has been wearing her “Defi”, her little lifesaver, under her skin for three years, it should last four years, then a new one has to be found. The end of his career was of course in the room, but Bauer bit his way through. Like after the broken hand before the games in Rio. Or after the herniated disc in spring 2019 (“In the morning I knew that hell was about to begin”), when she made it to the World Cup in Doha.

Qualifying for Tokyo should crown Bauer’s sporting life, even if the Olympics, which she dreamed of as a child, will not be due to Corona. “We all know that. And it hurt to feel it and to honestly admit it,” says the 30-year-old, who is still hoping for fans at the competitions in the summer for the “last kick”.

If she then actually made it to Tokyo, it would be “a magical moment I would never forget,” but not the best day of her life. That should still come. Maybe it will be their “wedding or the birth of my first child,” says Bauer. The fighter still wants to experience a lot.