After four individual gold medals
“Stupid mistake” brings German team to World Cup medal
07/20/2023, 11:10 am
In the four individual races, the German open water swimmers win gold four times at the World Championships – in the team they miss the medals by 0.2 seconds. In the end, a faux pas decides the race. While the national coach is angry, the team remains positive.
Even without the targeted record, the German open water swimmers celebrated their grandiose World Championships with La-Ola. Double world champion Leonie Beck, Oliver Klemet, Rob Muffels and Lea Boy didn’t let fourth place in the season spoil their mood. Arm in arm with their colleagues around Olympic champion Florian Wellbrock, trainers and supervisors, they posed for team photos. “Fourth place is obviously unfortunate. But we’ve left the other nations miles behind in the Team Trophy,” said Muffels. The 28-year-old added: “You can be very proud of that as a team.”
After four wins in four races, the German national anthem was not sung for the first time at a precious metals ceremony in Fukuoka’s Momochi Seaside Park. Another gold medal would have meant a record. The fact remains that no nation has ever won all open water events at a World Championships.
The dominance of the German swimmers in the sea was overwhelming even without this record and a medal at the end – four times gold and one bronze are an outstanding result. Beck and Wellbrock won over ten and five kilometers respectively. There had never been four world championship titles for the same country over these two distances before. The 25-year-old Wellbrock then decided not to start a relay in order to be able to better prepare for the pool races in the coming week. There, too, he is one of the top favorites in the 800 and 1500 meter freestyle.
Muffels is going to study now
The chances of winning a medal would certainly have been better with him. Looking at her team with Klemet, Muffels and Boy, Beck also said: “We won the World Cup in Sardinia with the same line-up.” The 26-year-old also added with a view to the constantly changing conditions in open water swimming: “Anything can always happen. It is not a matter of course that you get or win a medal.”
Wellbrock cheered as a spectator and then enjoyed the honor of the German team as the best team. Like him and Beck, Klemet, who won bronze in the ten-kilometer race, can already look forward to the Olympic Games in Paris next summer. The qualification can no longer be taken away from all three. Muffels also wanted to make it to the games again. Since the two German starting places for men have already been taken, this World Cup was his last major event. The Magdeburg resident by choice wants to concentrate on studying psychology in the future and is ending his career.
Klemet is still a long way from that. If everything goes normally, the 21-year-old still has a long and promising career ahead of him. This time over 4×1500 meters he had to admit defeat to Australian Kyle Lee as the final swimmer in the photo finish. 0.2 seconds separated the two at the end. The Italian relay secured the victory. Silver went to Hungary. “I saw five meters in front that I was a bit ahead, but I didn’t catch the attack that well,” admitted final swimmer Klemet.
National coach Berkhahn is dissatisfied
“He was actually clearly in the front, but then swam his head well under the board before he hit the board,” said long-distance national coach Bernd Berkhahn, who trains Klemet in Magdeburg, describing the decisive situation. “It’s a stupid mistake. It doesn’t have to happen. Even if you’re inexperienced, you can shoot properly.”
Berkhahn also said: “Olli was already very exhausted. You could tell that the other two races put him down quite a bit. He couldn’t cope with the waves at all. He’s simply too light for that. Then he breathed with every move and swam very laboriously. That wasn’t good.”
With more wind and swell, conditions on the final day of open water competitions in southwestern Japan were more difficult than at previous World Championships competitions. Klemet said he “didn’t hit the board so well” at the finish. He added to his race: “You have to learn from it and do better next time.” Beck defended him. “Only one can have third place in the attack. That’s the sport. We’re not angry, maybe a little disappointed,” she said. The whole team did a “good job”.