The gymnast Sarah Voss in a full body suit during the European Championship qualification in April
Photo: Georgios Kefalas / picture alliance / Keystone
"Leotard" is a trigger word. 80 percent polyester, 20 percent spandex, a thin, skin-tight fabric under which every rib and every curve can be seen. If you say “gymnastics suit”, you get a sympathetic and at the same time knowing sounding “Ooh”, which you usually know from conversations about root canal treatments. It wasn't until the European Gymnastics Championships that I realized which reactions the word alone triggers. At the end of April, Sarah Voss caused a sensation when she competed at the European Championships in a long full body suit. “As a little girl, I didn't find the tight leotards so highly dramatic. But when puberty began, when my period came, I increasingly had a bad feeling, ”she told ZDF.
This discomfort in a swimsuit-like costume seems to connect women from popular to competitive sports. After what my friends and colleagues came up with when it came to a leotard, I'm glad that I never had a hint of gymnastics talent. But there was this school performance for which the sports teacher forced us to do a dance performance. 1987, Eye of the Tiger. Why she chose a five-year-old boxing film song for girls ages twelve to 13 remained her secret. Why she was inspired by Jane Fonda's aerobic outfits for our costumes, too. At least it made us feel queasy on stage like Rocky Balboa in the ring. The religion teacher then said comfortingly: “In three days nobody will talk about it anymore.” She was wrong. It took our classmates about a year, luckily it was a youth without internet.
Elisabeth Seitz, Sarah Voss' team colleague, spoke about sexist sports photography even before the EM. A classic among the pictures on the net: the camera aims at the step during the split jump. The appearance with long trousers was seen as a symbol, even as a revolution in women's gymnastics. This initiative of the gymnasts fits in perfectly with his actions in terms of prevention against sexual violence, the association found. But it takes more than saying goodbye to the tight jersey. At the Chemnitz Olympic base there are allegations ranging from dietary obsession to psychological terror, and similar things can be heard from other countries. On Netflix, the documentary athlete A reconstructs the abuse scandal in US gymnastics, the traces stretch back to the 1990s. In 1997 there was a music video by the Chemical Brothers (directed by Spike Jonze) with Sofia Coppola as an artistic gymnast. A masterpiece in which Coppola only needs one freestyle to show the abyss between empowerment and vulnerability in this sporting world.