Two German pairs paddled to Olympic glory within an hour of each other on the Dorney Lake on Thursday, which meant that Germany leapfrogged France in the medals table to take 6th place.Germany’s Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela won the 1,000-metre canoe sprint title, while Franziska Weber and Tina Dietze won the women’s kayak 500-metre sprint gold with two furious final sprints.
Kretschmer and Kuschela pulled past the leading Azerbaijani boat in the final stretch to take the top prize, Der Spiegel magazine reported. “It was like in a trance,” Kuschela said after the race. “When I looked across I realized they didn’t have any more, and we gave it everything.”
Silver and bronze were taken by the Belarus and Russia pairs, who finished nearly three seconds later.
German cheers rang out across the water again an hour later, when Weber and Dietze stormed home half a second ahead of the Hungarian pair.
“It’s unbelievable,” gushed Weber. “We’ve never done anything like this before; I’ve got no idea where that came from.”
Unlike their male team-mates, the two women dominated their race from the beginning.
But the men of course said their slower start had been all part of their plan. “We used to make the mistake of starting the race very aggressively, which tired us out before the end,” Kuschela had already said on his home club’s website in Potsdam.
“Now we start with a long stroke at the beginning, and let the other pull a bit more at first,” he said. “After five strokes we’ve got our rhythm and try and work our way to the front.”
There was disappointment though for pink-haired star high-jumper Ariane Friedrich, who failed to make the final at the Olympic Stadium. Friedrich failed to jump the 1.96 metres she needed to progress.
Questions are now bound to be raised about her selection, since the unfit star had failed to reach the German Olympic Federation’s qualification height of 1.95 metres all season.