Status: 10.12.2023, 18:13 PM
Five-time rowing world champion Peter Michael Kolbe sits on the Trave in a rowing singles. © Markus Scholz/dpa
Peter-Michael Kolbe celebrated numerous successes in his career. His five world titles in the single sculls are still a record to this day. Now the former top rower has died at the age of 70.
Lübeck - He celebrated numerous great victories, but his defeats were remembered the most: German rowing mourns the loss of sports legend Peter-Michael Kolbe. The former world-class rower died at the age of 70 after a serious illness in a nursing home in Lübeck. "It's a big loss for us. He was the only individual rower ever to be voted Sportsman of the Year," said DRV chairman Moritz Petri on Sunday to the German Press Agency, referring to the great popularity of the former exceptional athlete.
Kolbe, known as the "Man in the Skiff", was one of the world's best single rowers during his active days. Five world championship titles and his election as "Sportsman of the Year" in 1975 documented his class. The fact that he was denied an Olympic victory was only partially a blemish on him: "I was world champion five times and European champion once, after all, that's something," Kolbe commented years after the end of his career in 1989.
Nevertheless, Kolbe, who was known as a loner, had the stigma of being the eternal runner-up. Three times he took part in the Olympic Games, three times he had to settle for silver medals. The duels with the Finn Pertti Karppinen in Montreal in 1976 and in Los Angeles in 1984 went down in rowing history. Above all, the pictures from the final in Montreal are unforgettable. After taking a clear lead, Kolbe's performance collapsed in the last few meters and Karppinen passed.
An injection administered before the final caused a great stir afterwards and is said to have contributed to the defeat. "That wasn't doping to date," Kolbe said. To his chagrin, the injection of an alleged vitamin preparation as a Kolbe syringe entered the parlance. The headlines at the time contributed to the fact that the two defeats against Karppinen hurt him more than the one in Seoul in 1988 against Thomas Lange from Halle, with whom he remained friends until his death.
After his active career, Kolbe, who was born in Holzminden and grew up in Hamburg, worked for the German Rowing Association. From 1990 to 1994 he was its sporting director. This time saw the reunification of the two German rowing federations and the merging of two different competitive sports systems. It was a difficult time in which he not only made friends with controversial decisions.
"We remember Peter-Michael Kolbe as a somewhat stubborn Hanseatic with a dry sense of humour, his own will and a lifelong love of the boat and commemorate him with great appreciation. We will not forget him," it said in a DRV statement. Dpa