Tim Lobinger shared his fate with his fans and spread a little bit of normality. The seriously ill former world-class pole vaulter has appeared in numerous cheerful photos on social media in recent weeks – sometimes thoughtful, often with a smile and yet already heavily drawn. The news of his death caused great consternation in German sport on Thursday evening. Lobinger, who had long fought cancer, died at the age of 50, his family confirmed to the German Press Agency. The “Rheinische Post” and RTL had previously reported.
“The former pole vault legend fell asleep peacefully in a small circle, he didn’t lose the fight, he won it in his own way,” says a statement from the family, which RTL and “Bild” spread. “Now you are no longer in pain,” wrote the track and field athlete Sabrina Mockenhaupt. “A lot of strength from your whole family.” Lobinger’s last photo on the Instagram network was just a week old – now commented on with numerous expressions of condolence.
Lobinger was always open about his cancer. “There will be no more healing for me. My cancer is too aggressive,” he told the “Bild” newspaper in October last year. In February 2022, doctors told him his death was near. He should make arrangements, deal with his funeral and say goodbye to his loved ones. “Talking to my kids was tough. You know how bad I am,” he said. Still, he didn’t think about giving up: “It’s worth fighting for every day that I live and get to spend with my family.”
Lobinger was diagnosed with blood cancer in March 2017. After chemotherapy, stem cell donations, intermittent relapses and a brief liver failure in the summer of 2018, the 2003 indoor world champion was considered healthy again. In 2020, however, he had to undergo therapy again and received additional radiation.
In 1997, Lobinger was the first German staff artist to break the six-meter mark outdoors. In 2003 he won gold at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham. For many years, the extroverted athlete was one of the defining figures in his sport. After his career, he worked for four years as an athletic trainer with the football professionals at RB Leipzig.
Lobinger, who was born in Rheinbach and started for Bayer Leverkusen, ASV Köln and Stadtwerke München, had won three medals at the outdoor European Championships: Silver in 1998 in Budapest and 2006 in Gothenburg and bronze in 2002 in Munich. In 1997 he jumped a German record of 6.00 meters in Cologne-Müngersdorf. It was only in 2012 that Olympic silver medalist Björn Otto surpassed this mark by one centimetre.
Lobinger was denied a medal at the Olympic Games and outdoor world championships. In 2011, the German Athletics Association (DLV) honored the pole vaulter with the Rudolf Harbig Prize at the national title fights in Kassel.