“You need brains,” the exhausted and happy defending champion Oliver Zeidler seemed to indicate after the race, tapping his temple several times with his finger. The strategy of the 26-year-old in the final of the World Rowing Championships in Račice, Czech Republic, on Sunday afternoon was not particularly cerebral. The Munich driver dominated the field right from the start, was three and a half seconds in the lead and maintained it to the finish.
He didn’t let Melvin Twellaar, who attacked in the last quarter of the race, get closer, and in the end it was a one and a half second advantage that separated Zeidler from the Dutchman who was in second place. A show of force. When Zeidler won the 2019 World Cup, the lead over silver was three hundredths of a second. Third place went to Brit Graeme Thomas.
Before the race, the German had given Twellaar, this year’s European champion, the role of favourite: “Melvin is unbeaten here so far.” The trained tax clerk Zeidler explained the gold medal in the Czech Republic with the disappointing fourth place at the home European Championships in August. “Of course I wanted to do better than in Munich, I’ve worked very hard in the last few weeks. My father played a big role, he always told me that I could do it. That gave me confidence.”
However, Zeidler’s triumph cannot hide the historically weak World Championships from the point of view of the German Rowing Association (DRV). For the first time in 23 years, the heavily tapered eight, normally the figurehead of the DRV fleet, missed the final.
After being eliminated in the repechage, the eighth came through at least in the B final in front of China and Italy and ended the title fights in seventh place. The crew from Great Britain won the World Championship title in 5:24.41 minutes, 1.11 seconds ahead of the Netherlands. Third place went to Australia. The German crew needed 5:33.33 minutes to win their B-run. At the European Championships in Munich six weeks ago, the former German flagship, which is being rebuilt after the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, missed out on the medals.
The German team was not represented in twelve of the 14 finals of the Olympic classes – far too few for the claims of the largest rowing association in the world.