By Ulrike John, dpa

Frankfurt (dpa) – Former German pole vault ace Tim Lobinger is suffering from leukemia and currently undergoing chemotherapy in Munich, his management told dpa on Thursday.

“Tim is reacting well to the very aggressive treatment which makes him and the doctors cautiously optimistic. But healing will depend on many factors,” a statement said.

Lobinger, 44, was the first German to vault 6 metres back in 1997. He won the indoor world title in 2003, three European championship medals, competed at four Olympics and was a long-time spokesman of the German athletics team.

Thursday’s statement said that Lobinger was diagnosed with leukemia in March, and that apart from chemotherapy he is also to undergo a stem cell transplant.

German athletics federation chief Clemens Prokop named the news “a shock for all of us” and added: “Tim is a fighter. Therefore I am convinced that he will do his utmost to defeat this illness.”

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