Germany’s Reinhardt Engert, relentless rebel at Lahti worlds
I first met Reinhardt Engert when he was long jumping in the M55 decathlon on Day 1 at Lahti. After he landed, he grabbed a video camera and started shooting jumpers himself. I gave him my card. Uh oh. Instant buddy. The next morning, I ran into him in the stadium parking lot, where he was living out of his VW van and finishing work on a DVD of the previous day’s events. He told me he didn’t get much (or any) sleep. He came to Lahti for gold, all right — sales of his fitness drink and DVDs. Later I learned that Reinhardt, an accomplished German triathlete, had once gotten in trouble at a Eurovets meet when he brazenly set up shop next to the LOC-authorized commercial photographers. But trouble is Reinhardt’s middle name, and he made plenty of it in Lahti. He was a hoot.
By the third day, police had forced him to move his van. (He later parked downtown.) And a few days later, after ignoring officials’ pleadings to quit taking pictures in the infield without a credential, he was banned from the stadium except for his events.
He later claimed that he had been roughed up by Lahti police after ignoring other efforts to keep him away from the stadium infield.
Was he a pain in the neck? Probably.
Was he one of the most colorful characters at Lahti worlds? Most certainly.
Always wearing green, along with many product logos, he was everywhere. His uniform and headband were so filled with advertising that he was forced to tape over some of the logos on his singlet
I got along well with him, and shot several dozen pictures of Reinhardt on and off the track. At his van, he poured me a paper cup of his fruity energy drink, and tried to recruit me to be a U.S.-based seller in the franchise. I declined. (I heard he made the same pitch to others at the meet.)
One day, he gave me a thumb drive (a small flash-memory unit) to fill with the pictures I took of him. I eventually got it back to him (whew!) despite fears he had been shipped to Siberia.
Late in the meet, Reinhardt donned an Italian singlet and sneaked onto the track for access to more photos or video. An Italian athlete spotted him and gave him hell. Reinhardt was relentless. He was the Energizer Bunny of Lahti worlds, always coming back for more — and banging away at his DVD drum.
Reinhardt took 22nd and last in the M55 decathlon (scoring a mighty 3493 points), but he was first in making his presence known at Lahti. Other athletes labeled him as stark raving crazy. I just saw him as a clever self-promoter and talented middle-distance runner.
Meet officials are still seeing him in their sleep. Now you can see him here.