A telephone line can connect hearts no matter how long the distance might be.
German biathlon and cross-country skier Leonie Walter could hardly speak as she was overwhelmed by emotion at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
Only minutes after taking gold in the biathlon women's middle-distance vision-impaired event, Walter heard her mother's voice over the phone of a German TV reporter.
The 18-year-old stood next to the track of the National Biathlon Center in Zhangjiakou listening to Renate Walter telling her that she and her husband were in floods of tears witnessing her daughter's brave race 8,000 kilometers away.
"We cried. Yes, not only other parents can do that but us too," Renate told her daughter from the heart of the Black Forest.
The tiny village of St. Peter, located 20 kilometers east of Freiburg, is upside down, the golden youngster was told.
"Everyone in St. Peter is waiting to cheer you when you come home. We can't wait for you, we are so proud, the entire country is proud [of you]," the mother said.
She took an afternoon off to answer phone calls from neighbors, relatives, and friends.
Leonie said "thank you mum" many times after she had delivered the competition of her lifetime at the Beijing Games.
She passed all four shooting spots and sprinted down the line in high speed pushed by her guide, Pirmin Strecker.
It took some minutes for Germany's golden girl to confirm her win, as other competitors had to finish their race.
"At some point, everyone around me was jumping around, I knew that it was done, and that I got it," Walter stated enthusiastically.
Six weeks after her 18th birthday, the German added a surprising gold to her two bronzes in previous events at the 2022 Games.AFP
Germany's Leonie Maria Walter competes in the women's middle distance vision impaired biathlon event on March 8, 2022, at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre, during the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.
German head coach Ralf Rombach called the athlete "a very cool customer at a very young age."
The German association president, Julius Beucher, said that he was amazed by one of the youngest athletes on the team. The gold medal came as a surprise, the 75-year-old added.
Walter took up skiing at the age of seven. A coach at her St. Peter ski club attended a workshop for para-guides to give her better support. For a while, she trained at an association academy in Freiburg.
While the German athlete went through a marathon of interviews in north China's Hebei province, her mother kept answering calls back home.
Some of the village's primary school teachers, grocers, postmen, dressmakers, and former vacation guests of the family's farm came by to leave flowers and greeting cards.
"I can't go out in the village; I would never make it back before midnight as so many people want to have a chat," Renate said.AFP
German's Leonie Maria Walter and her guide celebrate after winning the women's middle distance vision impaired para biathlon final event on March 8, 2022, at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre during the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.