A good 20 minutes hoped and Leonie Beck looking at the World Cup scoreboard, then she was finally allowed to celebrate her Olympic ticket.
Relieved, the free water swimmer fell to national coach Stefan Lurz and her father in the arms, wiped her tears from her face with her towel and cheered for ninth place. After a thrilling ten-kilometer race in the harbor basin of the sunny Expo Ocean Park in Yeosu, it was only the video footage that finally showed: Beck and her teammate Finnia Wunram as eights are allowed to race in Tokyo in 2020.
"Fighting was really worth it this time, and the years that I've worked for it have also paid off," Beck said in South Korea. Open water national coach Stefan Lurz commented on the waiting for the result with his athlete on the floating launch bridge as follows: «The last 20 minutes were almost more exciting than the race.»
But the race was not boring – on the contrary: In the exceptionally close race, where a big top group stayed together until the finish and the medal ranks were fixed only after a photo finish, the Chinese woman Xin Xin won in front of Haley Anderson from the USA and the Italian Rachele Bruni. Wunram was 3.5 seconds behind the winner, Beck 3.8 seconds. The 22-year-old's eleventh place, which would not have been enough for Tokyo, was just 0.2 seconds – after almost two hours of racing.
Before the race, Lurz had hardly worried about the sporting qualities of his Würzburg protégé. He thought rather of Beck's nerves. "She could have breakfast, which is very valuable," he explained, smiling. "She also kept breakfast, which is very valuable."
Unlike Beck, Wunram was quickly sure after the race to have the Olympic place. "I'm still a little speechless, but I'm very, very happy that I've done it now," said the 23-year-old Magdeburg from something breathless. "All the hard training has finally paid off. For that I love the sport, that you will be rewarded with such things then. "On Tuesday, Florian Wellbrock and Rob Muffels want to follow suit and book their Tokyo tickets. For the women, they were able to convince themselves live on site how close it can be.