DORNEY England Aug 1 Germany's eight man rowing
crew bore the weight of history lightly on their shoulders after
staving off challenges from Britain and Canada to win their
first Olympic gold medal in 24 years on Wednesday.
The last time a "German" eight man crew struck gold at the
Olympics, Helmut Kohl was Chancellor of West Germany, the Berlin
Wall was still standing tall and the crew which streaked to the
line at the 1988 Seoul Olympics beat the Soviet Union and its
Cold War rival the United States.
Germany's man in the two seat told reporters after the race
that though the German press has been making a hullabaloo about
the history, the squad itself is happier to ignore all that and
live in the here and now.
"For us it's not important that we are the first in 20
years," Andreas Kuffner told reporters at a briefing after the
race. "The important thing to us is that we are Olympic
Crew members attributed their success since 2009 to the
return of their wily coach Ralf Holtmeyer, who have led them to
their last three world championships and given them the strategy
to stay unbeaten in their World Cup races since 2009.
Holtmeyer led Germany's eight to Olympic gold in 1988,
bronze four years later and then silver in 1996 before switching
to coach the women's teams. He was recalled to the men's squad
following a disappointing finish at the 2008 Beijing Games to
guide Germany's showcase rowing team.
"He's very experienced," Filip Adamski told Reuters after
the race. "They made the right decision."
Although Holtmeyer skipped the press briefing after the race
he has been critical of the decision to move the final of the
blue riband men's eight to Wednesday from its traditional Sunday
slot as the last race of the regatta and the seeding which saw
Germany face defending Olympic champions Canada and World Cup
medallists Netherlands and Britain in the first heat.
"There are a few jokes," he told British broadcaster the BBC
ahead of the Olympics. "The first one is that we have the final
on Wednesday, the second one is the draw."
Holtmeyer told Reuters earlier this year that the crew set
high standards for itself.
"Pressure is something you create yourself. We are saying:
what is more important is what we expect from ourselves rather
than from the outside. I think we did pretty well so far,"
Holtmeyer told Reuters Television.
The team has climbed an enormous mountain beating a British
squad which has done consistently well in the World Cup this
year and a Canadian team which set a world best time of five
minutes, 19.35 seconds at a World Cup event in Lucerne,
Switzerland in May.
They slipped out front to an early lead, which was whittled
down by Britain, who died in the last 500 metres only, to find a
fresh challenge from Canada.
"This was really hard because GB pushed us hard all the way
to the line and then suddenly I thought: 'Oh how did Canada get
there?'" Adamski said.
He said he sympathised with a dejected British crew, some of
whom he counts among his friends and fought hard, but may have
thrown away the chance for a silver in the all-out chase for
"My dream was I hoped we'd get gold and GB get silver," he
(Reporting by Paul Casciato, Editing by Nigel Hunt)