Katrin Krabbe didn't even make it to the finals in Seville. Predictably, her rivals sniped it proved she previously had been doped, although she has consistently tested clean. Krabbe blamed it on the flu and cheerily noted, "My marketing value doesn't seem to have suffered especially." Her coach, Springstein, thinks she had wasted too much time signing autographs and posing for pictures. "In her free time, she used to be able to catch up on her sleep and relax, " he complains. "Performance isn't the focal point now. We never had to think about building an image before." The entire atmosphere left him disgruntled; Springstein began talking about finding work abroad.
Beate Anders set a world record in race walking in Seville, but told the press that she could not identify with a united Germany. This win, she said, belonged to her, and to her coach.
Sandra Seuser also helped set a world record with her three eastern teammates in the 4x400-meter relay. When they fell into tearful embraces on the track, Seuser didn't hang back.
Sprinter Ulrike Sarvari flicked on the television set at home and watched the Seville meet. "It gave me a funny feeling to see them in our uniform," she remarked of the East Germans. It was even stranger not to be wearing the uniform herself.
The Germans finished second overall in Seville, one gold medal behind the Soviet Union's seven, but well below the dozen golds German officials had boldly predicted for their first major test as a united team. With all that had happened, it wasn't surprising that Seville saw no public burst of patriotism from the Germans.
"We Germans, after the last World War--" Blattgerste struggles to explain. "Well, nationalism was, quite simply, a bad thing. . . . Very seldom can you see our athletes running with their flag around the stadium." Privately, though, some feelings ran much deeper than anyone realized in Seville.
When he saw Christine Wachtel defend her world title for the third time, Walter Gladrow felt his heart swell and tears fill his eyes. "I learned the German anthem as a child," he remembers. "I had a very unique feeling when this hymn was played for her. It was beautiful."
Back in Neubrandenburg, Wachtel dropped by the club for the traditional victory celebration. Just as they had in the old days, the two administrators bought flowers for the unbeatable team of Walter Gladrow and Christine Wachtel. The four of them ate cake in the cafeteria and sat for a few minutes afterward, trying hard to find something to say. Wachtel's face remained closed, as if she were staring blankly again at a flag she did not recognize. Only when the others had left did she speak of her hopes for the future.
"Time heals all wounds," is what she said.