After a weak World Cup day, the discussion about the dwindling competitiveness of German rowers is getting louder. Only the two ones are still considered medal candidates.
Four starts, four bankruptcies – the World Cup frustration is growing in the German Rowing Association (DRV). All of the teams that started in the 14 Olympic competition classes on Thursday trailed far behind the competition in the semi-finals of the title fights in Racice (Czech Republic).
The women’s sculls and both lightweight sculls didn’t get past the last places. The coxless four had to make do with fifth place. Head coach Brigitte Bielig asked for leniency: “We are in a year of new beginnings and transition. We didn’t expect any miracles from that.”
The eight threatens trouble
Even the eighth, which has been successful for years, is threatened with adversity. For the first time since Beijing 2008, the final of an international top regatta could take place without the DRV parade boat. After the disappointing fourth place in the heats, batsman Torben Johannesen’s crew will be outsiders in the repechage on Friday (12:45 p.m.). In the duel with the Netherlands, the USA and China, only the first two teams qualify for the final. Despite the gloomy omens, coach Uwe Bender was combative: “We’ll try everything. Our goal remains to reach the A final.”
More chances than the eight are given to Oliver Zeidler and Alexandra Föster in one. Both the 2019 world champion from Munich and the 2022 European Championship third place from Meschede are considered the last remaining DRV medal aspirants. After all, Zeidler doesn’t have to duel either with Olympic champion Stefanos Ntouskos (Greece) or with European champion Melvin Twellaar (Netherlands) on Friday, who start in the other semi-final. On the other hand, Föster has to deal with Olympic champion Emma Twigg (New Zealand).
If these DRV trumps don’t sting either, the debate about necessary reforms between the association’s leadership and many athletes is likely to intensify. The first consequences were already announced on Thursday. This is how the association management reacted to the criticism from athletes’ circles and dissolved a recently convened expert council.
Analysis by external consulting agency
“We have dealt with the criticism that has arisen, especially that of the athletes, and have come to the conclusion that the expert council in this form is not an optimal instrument,” said DRV chairman Moritz Petri. Instead, an external consulting agency should be entrusted with the analysis.
After the poor performance at the home European Championships in Munich a good five weeks ago, the DRV convened an expert council consisting of former athletes, a sports scientist and officials to work out solutions to overcome the weak form. This was met with skepticism by some athletes. Eighth batsman Johannesen described the composition of the expert council as a “farce”: “Because there are people in there who are the focus of criticism. They control themselves, so to speak.”