War-refugee mum helps put Austria at the peak

On the day teammate Sandra Lettner grabs gold, Austrian Laura Lammer revels in being able to share her bronze medal with her mother - a woman who fled the Vietnam war in terror almost 50 years ago.

Picture by IOC/OIS

Sport climbing bronze medallist Laura Lammer (AUT) has never had to look far for inspiration. The 17-year-old knows she is only here thanks to the immense bravery her mother showed when fleeing the Vietnam war with her three young sisters in 1974 in a crowded fishing boat.

“We were from the south and my parents were being held by the communists,” Lien Lammer recalled, after watching her daughter power her way on to the podium in the women's combined event at Urban Park. “They wanted us to get to Europe to be safe and have a better life.

“When we arrived in Indonesia on the boat we saw bodies drifting in to the shore - those who didn’t make it. We went to an immigration camp and then on to Austria.”

The four young siblings were taken in by nuns in the Austrian city of Graz, where they stayed for two years until their parents finally arrived.

While the entire family now consider themselves happily Austrian - Lien married Graz local Gunter Lammer more than 30 years ago - no one has forgotten where they came from.

“It’s very inspiring what she did,” the bronze medallist said of her mother. “She has always really encouraged me to go out and just do what I want to do.”


The teenager did just that under the warm Buenos Aires sun. The Austrian speed climbing record holder dominated at the beginning, winning the opening speed leg before finishing fourth in bouldering and fifth in lead.

It was more than enough for her mother, who said: “We brought her up to be really strong and we are so proud of her. I am just so happy.”

Compatriot Sandra Lettner, the 2017 youth world champion, made it a day to remember for the Austrians. A nerveless climb placing her second in the concluding lead phase gave her the sport’s first-ever Youth Olympic Games gold medal.

“It’s always been our dream to share the podium,” said Lettner, 17. “At first I thought she (Lammer) was fourth but when I realised, I can’t describe the feelings.”

Slovenia’s Vita Lukan split the pair in the standings. The 2018 lead youth world champion showed her class by recovering from a disastrous last-place finish in the opening speed leg to win bouldering and finish third in lead.


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