“Zeidler of all people”, one or the other rowing official might have thought on Sunday afternoon when the relief at the Munich World Cup title in singles in Račice, Czech Republic, had subsided.
Ironically, it was Zeidler, the chief critic of the German Rowing Association (“catastrophic condition”), its staff (“have no one who has a clue about competitive sport”) and the supposedly insufficient performance ethos (“debacle”), who had come under fire from the association’s fleet in front of it saved her from leaving a world championship for the first time without a single medal in any of the 14 Olympic boat classes.
Next tip against the association
Before the start of the race, it was unclear which of the six athletes who had qualified for the final on Friday should be the favorites: the European champion Mevin Twellaar from the Netherlands, the Greek Olympic champion in Tokyo, Stefanos Ntouskos, or the German defending champion 2019, Oliver Zeidler?
Seven weeks earlier at the European Championships in Munich, the athlete had suffered a bitter defeat: on his home track in Oberschleißheim, he collapsed just before the finish line and finished the race in fourth place. Zeidler then carried out causal research: “A pulmonologist told me that this was a typical after-effect of a corona infection. In the last five weeks, I ran from doctor’s appointment to doctor’s appointment to be fit for the World Cup.”
The race seems to have paid off. Zeidler was not only able to defend his place in the sun at the top of the world, the final turned into a show of power. The 2019 world champion was in the lead right from the start, at times driving a boat and a half ahead of the competition. When the Dutchman Melvin Twellaar again hinted at an attack in the last quarter and the pessimistic observer suspected a déjà vu like in Munich, Zeidler kept control. He kept the runner-up at bay. From the sounds of the “Oli! Oli!” he was not impressed by the shouts in the spectator stands. “Today wasn’t my best race at all. There’s still something going on next year,” he said. Then there is the qualification for the 2024 Olympics.
Zeidler’s family also sat in the stands. The son had already noticed that he first chose a different sport: swimming. Although he comes from a rowing dynasty. Grandfather Hans-Johann became Olympic champion in 1972, father Heino still trains his son today.
And so Zeidler’s praise for his coach after the competition could hardly be interpreted other than as another tip against his own association: “This success shows that my father and I do professional work, although we are not at a federal base and he is not the national coach is.”
The gold medal from Zeidler, who moved from the Ingolstadt Danube Rowing Club to Germania Frankfurt an der Main in April, is nothing more than the decorative cherry on an inedible diet cake for the DRV. The haul of the German team, which was only represented in two of the 14 Olympic finals, remained with a gold medal, one silver (para mixed four with helmswoman) and three bronze (Paul Umbach in para one, lightweight two women). and men’s lightweight quadruple sculls) lean overall.