W.if you look at the reviews google maps As you can imagine, in the Italian town of Voltorre there is a viewpoint from which you can see a particularly good view of Lake Varese. Surrounded by a picturesque mountainous landscape, the lake in the north of the country not only attracts numerous visitors, but also the best rowers in the world this Friday at the start of the World Cup.

With about 100 days to go until the Summer Olympics, the German Rowing Club (DRV) is also busy Varese about having an overview of how justified the medal hopes in Paris are. The focus of the event is once again the DRV flagship: the German Eight. Although its crew has already qualified for the Summer Games, the parade boat has fallen on turbulent times.

A year after winning the silver medal at the recent Tokyo 2021 Games, the team underwent a radical transformation and has since sought consistency and, above all, success with a changed lineup and under the leadership of national coach Sabine Tschäge. . In 2023, for example, this was achieved with third place in Varese and, three months later, with Olympic qualification at the World Championships in Belgrade.

A good summary is not enough

Now the promising course in Italy should be maintained again. “We have to see how the other teams here present themselves and see where we can still improve,” says Tschäge in an interview with FAZ, “but we can say that we have made a lot of progress in a short time since the change of direction.” point in 2022 The most important task is to increasingly turn the German team into a unit that is perfectly coordinated with each other and meets high international standards.

Tschäge brought in, among others, the veteran Hannes Ocik. The 32-year-old helped shape the past heyday of the German eight, which many remember with nostalgia today. The batsman won silver at the Rio and Tokyo Summer Games, as well as three World Cup gold medals and seven European Championship gold medals.

The reward: After several years of abstinence, Hannes Ocik is once again among the eight in Germany.

The reward: After several years of abstinence, Hannes Ocik is once again among the eight in Germany.

Image: Sven Simon

But it was not just hindsight that allowed Ocik to return to the German eight after a break of about three years, but rather physical effort and perseverance.

“In the end, there were very close decisions about who would be among the eight. The whole selection process is very exhausting because not only do you prepare for a competition, but you also have to shine for weeks. Or now months and perform and attract attention during training.” And Ocik delivered exactly that: performance at the highest level.

Running through the water with a barrel

Without the right attitude and a little forethought, this wouldn't be possible: “I realized that I was still excited to take on this challenge,” says Ocik. “We may not be the absolute number one candidate for the medal now. But I wanted to use my experience and my strengths to get this eight back to where it was.”

Ocik, who participated for the first time in Germany's eight in 2013, eleven years later still sees a lot of potential. “You have to realize that we are moving about a ton of weight through the water,” he says. “If we compare the eight-man team with the Tokyo team, for example, we have approximately the same power. What we currently lack a little is the efficiency with the power that this equipment has to complete 2000 meters at the highest level, at the highest speed.”

This promises to be a challenge, especially in Varese, with sometimes unpredictable and strong winds, but it is an important preview: “In Paris, on the way, we were able to gain experience that it can also be very windy there,” Ocik allows himself. a positive perspective: “Varese's experience will certainly help us.”

In the first race of the Olympic year things did not go as planned. The eighth-place finisher was 4.43 seconds behind the Netherlands in the second race and will have to make a detour through Saturday's repechage race (12:09 p.m.) to Sunday's final (2:15 p.m.).