News11 Jan 2009

Sudden death of René Herms


Rene Herms wins the men's 800m - German Champs (© Bongarts/Getty Images)

Germany’s athletics community is shocked by the death of René Herms. The 26-year-old 800 m runner was found dead at his home in Lohmen near Pirna (southeast of Dresden) on Saturday (10). 

Herms' wife, who had been working in Hannover, had sent her mother to have a look because he had not answered phone calls. His mother-in-law then found Herms, who appeared to have died on Friday evening. The cause is unknown.

As Jochen Mayer, sports editor of the Sächsische Zeitung in Dresden, reports the police said that there is no suspicion regarding another person involved or suicide being the course of the death.

Herms’ club LG Braunschweig had issued a statement on Saturday which indicated that the death might be related to heart problems following an infection or flu between Christmas and the New Year. But this appears to be pure speculation at this point.

“Such speculation is irresponsible,” said a furious Klaus Müller to the Sächsische Zeitung. Müller was the coach who guided Herms to international success. “What has happened to him is so awful,” said Müller while his present coach Dietmar Jarosch said: “It is unbelievable. I have no explaination, there were no signs for such a tragedy.”

Herms (DOB 17 July 1982), was the 2001 European Junior and 2003 European Under-23 champion at 800m. An Athens 2004 Olympian (semi-final), who competed in two World Championships (Paris 2003 and Helsinki 2003), Herms had his best senior championship showing when coming seventh in the 2002 Europeans in Munich. He failed to go past the first round stage in the 2006 edition of the continental championships in Gothenburg. After that disappointment he separated from Müller, but in recent training camps they were cooperating again. It was just last recently when Herms went to Müller for a lactat test, which produced good results.

Arguably his most successful international stage as a senior was at the European Cup, where on two occasions he made the podium. He also medalled twice at the European Indoor Cup competition. Herms’ personal best came in Munich on 8 August 2004 in a match against USA and France which he won in a time of 1:44.14.

Indoors and out René Herms had been German 800 m champion twelve times. His most spectacular national title came in 2002, when he beat the reigning Olympic and European champion Nils Schumann. It looked for some time that René Herms could become Germany’s next great 800 m runner.

After the recent infection René Herms had resumed training again. It appears that he had been training on Friday probably just hours before his tragic death.

“On Friday we said good bye to each other after training. Everything was normal, as usual. There was no indication of a problem,” said Germany’s 400 and 400 m hurdles runner Claudia Marx in the Sächsische Zeitung. She added: “René had big plans for this year with the World Championships in Berlin coming up. He was well in plan for that.” }

On Saturday René Herms did not appear when the training group went for Chemnitz for an indoor training session. “It is unbelievable what has happened,” said  Marx.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF