18. November 2011  
Rinteln, Stadtroda, Potsdam  
Artistic Gymnastics

Bernd Jäger: A gymnastics innovator turns 60!

" ... Flying was developed ...!"
A man turns 60 today, whose name is very important for the development of modern gymnastics:
Bernd JÄGER showed at the 18th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships 1974 in Varna a straddled somersault fwd. on high bar. This element was named "Jaeger"- somersault. It was the first flight element in history and after it followed a development of many others on high bar.

At the European Championships 1977 in Vilnius followed the "Deltchev"-somersault by Stoyan Deltchev. One year later at the World Championships Eberhard Gienger showed the piked variation of it, which was called "Gienger"- somersault...
At that point of time when on high bar except for the "Lissitzki-bridge" no larger elements with loosing the grip and no somersaults were presented, Bernd Jäger's coach Richard Karstedt in Potsdam had the idea to transfer the "Janz roll", which was presented by the Olympic Champion 1972 (Munich) Karin Janz on uneven bars during her gold routine, to the high bar.
It was hard work for one year and in September 1974, shortly before the World Championships in Varna, the 22-year-old presented the element for the first time at a dual meet against Switzerland in Altstätten.
Five weeks later at the World Championships in Bulgaria Bernd Jäger narrowly missed a medal on parallel bars and then wanted to risk everything on high bar, ...his new element worked well...but then the he fell on the "old" double somersault with 1/1 turn dismount.
Eberhard Gienger (West Germany) became World Champion and Wolfgang Thüne, who trained together with Jäger in Potsdam, won the silver medal.

Bernd Jäger coaching in Rinteln

In the middle of the 90ies he received an offer from the Finish team at the Tournament of Masters in Cottbus to work in Finland as a coach to develop a team for the Olympic Games 2000. Half a year after he started working there Jani Tanskanen won a gold medal on high bar.
"Jani of course already was able to do the elements when I came in March 1997. His problem mainly was his self confidence. We then changed the routine in a way that suited him and worked with him on his mental strength."
However, the Finish team didn't compete well at the World Championships 1999 in Tianjin and missed the qualification for the Olympic  Games 2000 in Sydney. "Anyway my contract lasted only until 2000", said Bernd Jäger, who after the silver medal at the1998 European Championships then after the 2000 European Championships returned to Potsdam.
Since March 2001 the former head coach of the top club in Potsdam and then national coach in Finland (1997 - 2000) now works at the club "VT Rinteln". He coaches all age-groups from children to adults and some of his gymnasts are quite successful. His wife, a former teacher at Potsdam's sports school, now works in the finance department of the club and takes care of the development of the club members.

Their three children don't live at home anymore and are successful in their lives: Daughter Andrea (43) lives in New York and works in the management of "Colgate & Palmolive". In addition to her, there are two sons Daniel (40) and Matthias (30).