Long jumper draws conclusions: Mihambo describes lung problems after EM collapse

Malaika Mihambo wins her first competition after the European Championships.

Long jumper draws conclusions: Mihambo describes lung problems after EM collapse

Malaika Mihambo wins her first competition after the European Championships. In Berlin, the long jumper also gives an insight into how she dealt with the shortness of breath and the collapse two weeks ago. Her lungs aren't at 100 percent yet - but she has a way of dealing with it.

Malaika Mihambo radiates an extraordinary serenity, a self-contained confidence. Even if she's talking about something serious. She notices "even today", she says after her victory at the ISTAF in Berlin, "that I literally lose my breath more quickly". In the very first attempt, she flies to 6.92 meters and then skips two jumps so as not to overtax her body. The lungs are not quite back to where they usually are, she says, and "the breathing efficiency is still a bit below average." Mihambo therefore deliberately reduces the load by forgoing the second and fourth attempt. It is the consequence of the dramatic moments that the 28-year-old experienced at the European Championships in Munich.

Two weeks ago, Mihambo won the silver medal, wrapped in black, red and gold on the lap of honor and then in the interviews. Suddenly she complains of shortness of breath. breakdown, medical help. It was not until 12.41 a.m. that the German Athletics Association issued the first all-clear, saying "she's feeling better".

After the title fights, she "went to the hospital and had everything checked," she says now in Berlin, when the lung impairment was diagnosed. "Only slightly", it gives additional insight into the test results, but it is still noticeable. At the ISTAF, too, she notices "that my lungs will reach my limits even faster".

After Munich she first had to recover "because the competition cost so many resources". She was "overexerted" overall, but her lungs in particular. The consequences of a corona infection during preparation for the European Championships, which the 2021 Olympic champion says are emotionally "closer to the heart" than the World Championships shortly before in the USA. Due to the postponement of the Olympics, the World Cup and European Championship will take place three weeks apart, an already high burden that seems to increase further in Mihambo's case due to the Covid 19 disease - and ends in a visible overload.

In the week after the collapse, "I took a few days off first," she says, adding that she "needed time" to recover. Only a few days before the ISTAF does she increase her volume again, jump into the pit and do sprints again. She felt "very good". In addition, she tries to support the recovery with physiotherapy - to "open the chest", i.e. to loosen the muscles around the chest. She also reports on a "breathing school", which is why she hopes "that I'll be back to my 100 percent very quickly". The question does not seem to be whether this development will occur, only when.

In order to help with this, she also says she takes "a spray to help," "simply so that the lungs can regenerate faster." In the case of sprays, all those who are looking for doping offenses will prick their ears. As well thought-out, rested and thorough as Mihambo and her entourage have (co)determined one big long jump final after the other for years, it can be assumed that the use of this spray has been thoroughly checked. The combination of all these treatments has not yet been able to finally banish the symptoms, "but everything looks good and that's the main thing," said Germany's three-time athlete of the year.

The fact that she is still so efficient - qualifying for the European Championship final with 6.99 meters, silver at the European Championships with 7.03 meters, victory at the traditional ISTAF with 6.92 meters - is meanwhile Mihambo also very simply attributes to her choice of discipline. "I think it all works well now because I'm doing long jump and not 5000 meters." It only takes a few seconds from the run-up to the pit, a maximum but short-lived load at the moment. A burden that Mihambo wants to face again at the Diamond League final in Zurich next weekend before the season break is due. For which she confidently assumes that the problem with the ailing lung "will return, although of course I don't challenge her quite as much".

(This article was first published on Monday 05 September 2022.)

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