by Tatjana Pinto

I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but if someone were to ask me: “what changed, that made this season as successful as it has been so far?” all I could say is that it’s a matter of things falling into place at the right time.

I don’t think many people know, and I’m not one to talk about personal matters much, but the last few years have been a rollercoaster – not just from a performance and injury perspective, but also in my personal life.

It was time for a change. I had to get out of my home surroundings and to try a different, more focused approach and decided to follow that path under one of the best sprint coaches in the world, Rana Reider.

Given I’d been battling with injury for a while, I was equally excited but also a little nervous as to whether it was the right time to join this world-class group. Christian Taylor, Omar McLeod, Nia Ali, Andre De Grasse, Adam Gemili and Xie Zhenye are just some of the people I get to train with day in, day out.

Every day we push and motivate each other as a group, drive each other to peak performances. It’s hard to explain, but by surrounding yourself with those people, you pick up this mentality both consciously and subconsciously. For me, it’s another level, more professional, more meticulous, where you work on every little detail.

But it’s not all serious. Our group is a like a pick’n’mix. Having so many different personalities and nationalities come together to train and to get along seems tricky, but it works. How it works? I don’t know.

Tatjana Pinto with Nia Ali and Andre De Grasse in Birmingham (Michelle Sammet)

Everyone has their own quirks. The Jamaicans always bring some fun into it, high spirits, dancing in between reps at practice. They’re definitely the slightly louder characters.

Then, on the other hand, you have the very disciplined Chinese culture mixed with some quirky traits. The Americans are very focused and switched on, so there is a lot to learn from everybody. I sometimes have to disprove the stereotypical role of the German – serious, punctual, efficient – but everyone contributes the traits they’ve grown up with. The most important thing is that we all respect each other, our cultures and our traits and I think that certainly plays a big part in getting along so well.

There’s always banter flying around the group. We’re mocking each other, but there’s no one that takes it too seriously. I’m an emotional person, I have to feel comfortable in my surroundings and I had that feeling right from the start. There has to be a balance, that between all the professionalism and being focused the fun part also has to exist. It’s so important to not take yourself too seriously.

In sprinting, in order to perform, it's key to maintain a certain level of ease and comfort, and that’s one of the toughest things you can’t necessarily train for.

Of course, big changes like this also have their challenges. During the winter we're based in Jacksonville, Florida – a long way from home – but luckily for me, in the summer we have our European base in Bochum, Germany, which is less than a hundred kilometres from my hometown Münster.

Tatjana Pinto celebrates winning the German title (Getty Images)

The hardest part about the change, however, was to not have my long-time coach Thomas Prange by my side every step of the way. For me, he isn’t just a coach, he’s become family, especially over the past few years. He’s already pushed me to great results – national titles, multiple international relay finals – and always instilled a belief in me that I can compete at the highest level. But he also encouraged the decision to move on. I’ve always believed I can compete with the best, but it takes a certain time as well as a certain level of professionalism and environment. Leaving him was by far the toughest aspect for me.  

When you look at German sprinting, especially on the women’s side, a lot has happened over the last 10 years, especially technically. Naturally this manifests itself in the times and results as well. It started with the likes of Verena Sailer, with her coach Valerij Bauer who meticulously worked on certain aspects, and with that we’ve seen somewhat of a revolution in German sprinting.

I’m glad to be a part of that revolution. 

My dream, my hope, is to be among the best sprinters in the world this year and in years to come. Of course, I have to stay healthy, which I know I can’t take for granted. But winning both the 100m and 200m at the German championships in front of a packed Olympic stadium in Berlin last month made me want more of the same. And I know I’m in the right place at the right time to make that happen.