Oliver and Marie-Sophie Zeidler: The day after the disaster
Created: 08/16/2022, 10:00 am
By: Dieter Priglmeir
Looking into the void: Oliver Zeidler lost a medal in the last few meters.
© Angelika Warmuth/dpa
The two Schwaiger rowing aces work on the European Championship defeats.
– Maybe that can be compared to a rubber dinghy.
Thousands of spectators turned the regatta course in Oberschleißheim into a folk festival on Sunday, or even better, into an international party.
They celebrated every medal winner and happily clapped along to the Italian national anthem.
The climax was yet to come.
Everyone was waiting for the last race of the day, in which Oliver Zeidler was supposed to save the disastrous record of the German Rowing Association (DRV) with the only gold medal.
Huge applause erupted as he made his way to the start.
Then this race with the multiple change of leadership.
The tension was bursting - up to 200 meters from the finish.
And then - to stay with the image - it was as if someone had shot a hole in the boat.
The air escaped.
At least that's how it was for the viewers.
There was no anger, no explosion.
Rather incredulous and horrified, they watched the local hero run out of breath.
So far the view from the outside.
It was much more dramatic in Oliver Zeidler's boat.
"I burst," said Schwaiger afterwards.
"I was blue, it just didn't work anymore.
I couldn't coordinate my last 15 strokes anymore.” No chance for a final sprint.
Zeidler lost the duel for gold against the Dutchman Melvin Twellar, had to let Olympic champion Stefanos Ntouskos from Greece pass - and then also the Bulgarian Kristian Vasilev.
No medal - the next big disappointment after missing the Olympic final.
Although it was even worse back then, "because I was in top shape before Tokyo," says the 25-year-old.
This year he was suffering from a corona disease.
Yesterday, the association doctor also pushed for an examination in the next few days.
The lack of strength in the last few meters could be signs of the after-effects of the corona disease.
Over the next few days, Oliver Zeidler and his father and trainer Heino will analyze the competition again, which the sculler felt “like a tailor-made race” for the first 1500 meters.
"I also had a much better start than in the semifinals," he said.
However, the gusts and the constant battle for leadership against Ntouskos would not have allowed any rest.
Maybe the competition divided their strength better, especially since the wind wasn't blowing so hard in the last few meters.
"Maybe my frequency was also too low." His father was reluctant to have the skulls set even shorter in this wind.
"But we don't train with such a short lever either," said Oliver Zeidler.
Was it the wrong tactic that still worked in the semifinals?
So be it.
"I can't change it anymore," says Oliver Zeidler, already turning his attention to the World Championships, which begin in a month's time in the Czech Republic.
In contrast to the failure in Tokyo, no tears flowed this time either, rather he repeated his criticism of the association, which he had voiced the week before the European Championships.
"If, after my criticism of the professionalism in competitive rowing, you simply say that you don't know what you're talking about, then that's also an indication that on the one hand the German sports director really has little idea about sport, and on the other hand our two management positions in the Rowing really have no idea what's going on at our bases."
A few minutes before her brother's race, Marie-Sophie Zeidler had already given an insight into the destroyed internal relationship between the athletes and the association.
The 23-year-old sat in the double four, which was knocked off last in the final on Saturday.
That was the worst defeat of her sporting career so far, she said.
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"This is incomprehensible"
Of course she knew that the German quartet would have a hard time.
"But after we had improved so significantly from the prelims to the repechage, I was confident." Secretly, she even speculated "very, very vaguely" on a medal.
But then the German boat came last - a good 20 seconds behind the British winners.
After a good start, the debacle was already foreseeable after half of the two kilometers.
It still looked good: In the repechage (from left) Pia Greit, Marie-Sophie Zeidler, Frauke Hundeling and Sarah Wibberenz showed their potential.
The final turned out to be a debacle.
© Sven Hoppe
“It's really cool to start at a home European Championship.
I fulfilled my dream there.
But if you then drive the last kilometer knowing that you are totally screwing it up right now, then of course it's much worse at home than anywhere in the world," said the state police officer.
The huge sporting disappointment was to be followed by the big end.
"I was already on my way home when I was ordered back," says Zeidler.
The sports director and trainer folded the seven scullers together in a way that the 23-year-old would not have thought possible.
"The tenor was: We are children, not professionals," says Marie-Sophie Zeidler.
The meeting lasted two hours and she could probably quote every single word, "because the conversation is very deep".
Four of her colleagues cried, she herself was also deeply affected, "because the blame was always sought on us athletes".
Those responsible would not have admitted their own mistakes with a word - for example the fact of changing the crew of the boat again two weeks before the European Championships.
“We had a single two-week training block together.
And even that we had to drive with substitutes at times because one of the drivers was ill,” reports Marie-Sophie Zeidler.
Everyone on board has the necessary potential – “we also had the best performance values in the pre-season tests” – but you need training sessions for that.
"Then we would certainly have solved the problem that we used to lose our rhythm after 500 meters, but that just takes time," says Marie-Sophie Zeidler, who is also self-critical.
"The fact that I showed my worst performance on my home track is really bitter," but the way coaches and officials dealt with the result was shameful.
"The trust in these people is definitely gone - also among the athletes who train at the base in Berlin and have been silent up to now.
At the moment I don't see any basis for further cooperation."
Today she should leave for an athletic training in Poland.
At the time of going to press, however, that wasn't certain, because the association and coach met on Monday evening.
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