“Unfortunately that’s not the case with us: I can’t defeat my opponent, we’re not in a boxing match. I can’t throw any further than him either. I can only do my best exercise and the judges decide the rest.” Lukas Dauser has been giving this little lesson in gymnastics in various variations for a while now whenever the question of concrete goals, i.e. medal ambitions on parallel bars, for the next big competition is in the room. And then usually adds: “I have a good exercise on parallel bars. And that’s why I try to do my best exercise for myself. And then we’ll see.”
This was also the case last Saturday when he won the second qualifying competition for the World Cup in Liverpool at the end of the month. National coach Valeri Belenki had nominated Dauser as the only gymnast after the first internal elimination two weeks ago in Kienbaum.
There are no absolute numbers
Lukas Dauser could have taken it easy in the large sports hall in Rüsselsheim, but he always tries to do his best exercise. He managed a flawless six-way fight, which the judges rewarded with a total of 82.732 points. On parallel bars he received the day’s highest score of 15.266 with a difficulty value of 6.6 points. These are numbers whose meaningfulness is ultimately quite limited. In this regard, Dauser’s comparison with an athlete in a throwing discipline is entirely appropriate: in gymnastics, there are no best lists of grades ever achieved, there are absolutely no absolute numbers, in every competition the judges’ sole concern is to correctly compare the performances shown to put together.
This is exactly why statements like the ones that are so often formulated are forbidden: With this rating, Dauser would have won x or y gold, silver or bronze in the competition. “Every competition starts from scratch” – another sentence that Lukas Dauser often repeats. It is the difficulty rating alone, i.e. the addition of the elements shown and successful connections, that can be considered a reasonably stable indicator when it comes to assessing potential results at international level.
Lukas Dauser’s difficulty score on parallel bars has been one of the highest in the world for years. Combined with a good execution, he finished second at the 2017 European Championships, reached the final of the top eight at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships, won bronze at the 2021 European Championships and then the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
In Munich he fell off the device
In August he went into the European Championship final in Munich as one of the favourites. What did not succeed there, as in 2019 in Stuttgart, is in Dauser’s succinct postscript: to do gymnastics. He fell off the apparatus, finished last and was completely devastated. “I thought myself that it was a bit harder for me to digest that,” says Dauser in retrospect, but fortunately he “didn’t fall into a hole”. It “nerves” him, especially that it happened in Munich of all places: “That’s my hometown, that’s what gnaws a bit.”
After the European Championships, he had to realize that a silver Olympic medal can prove to be a hindrance: “It was kind of a pressure for me because I took it with me into the competition, but hey, that doesn’t do me any good.” After Munich, many had advised him to simply forget about the competition and tick it off. But that’s not Dauser’s way. “I actually want to learn from it and do it better next time.” After all, it’s the athletes who keep getting up after falling who end up standing up.
“I have to gymnastics free”
With his attitude, the 29-year-old is a role model for the younger players in the team in many ways. His meticulously tidy training bag stands for his professionalism, his friendly formulated lessons for a reflective handling of his own experiences. And Dauser always takes care of the team. He and veteran Andreas Toba, who did without two apparatuses in Rüsselsheim because of various malaise, had “put the younger ones through the wringer” a bit after the first qualification, said Dauser after the competition on Saturday, in which the eleven gymnasts were conspicuous loudly supported each other.
Nils Dunkel sits next to him and nods. The bronze medal winner from Munich on the pommel horse had just recommended himself for the World Championships with second place after a completely foolish first qualification. “A gymnastics competition like this is much easier when I know that nobody will be happy if I fall off the apparatus,” says Dauser’s training colleague from Halle.
In Liverpool, German men’s gymnastics will not be about being at the top. “The first three places belong to the strong nations,” explains a satisfied and relaxed-looking Valeri Belenki, looking at the team result: “We’re trying to get into the top eight.” He saw what was still to be done, there was still a lot of time Not. Lukas Dauser travels north with the following motto: “I have to do gymnastics freely, I have nothing to lose, I have nothing to defend, these are not Olympic Games. It starts from scratch.” And then, as always, if he shows his best routine, the judges decide everything else.