Wrapped in a towel and visibly lost, Florian Wellbrock sought explanations for his next failed World Championship race. The Olympic open water champion discussed his disappointing ninth place in the five kilometers with national coach Bernd Berkhahn in front of the big results screen in the port of Doha.

The German team for the first time without a medal in open water swimming

“It was better than the ten kilometres, but it still wasn't good, so it wasn't what we had planned for today,” the 26-year-old said on Wednesday. “I'm not happy right now,” he added, and that sounded like an understatement. The exceptional swimmer was twice Qatar He jumped into the sea as defending champion. On two occasions he was seriously beaten.

Since their teammate Oliver Klemet, eighth and about two and a half hours ahead, Leonie Beck (14th) and Jeannette Spiwoks (16th) did not win any medals, one thing is certain: for the first time since 2017, the German swimmers open water Finish a world championship without an individual medal. At that time, the German Swimming Federation (DSV) team even missed out on a place on the podium. This Thursday (8:30/CET) the relay has the opportunity to at least avoid it this time.

Wellbrock, who spoke of Germany as an “open water nation” at the last World Cup when he and Beck won double gold, has planned his World Cup without a relay start. “Cold water and wavy conditions don't suit me as well as others,” he said after his second World Cup appearance. In fact, things looked better there for a long time than they had when he slumped to finish 29th two days earlier over double the distance.

Wellbrock's attention is already focused on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Wellbrock set a huge pace in the first lap, when the water temperature was below 20 degrees, leveling the field of participants. Even after that, the Bremen native remained in front of his parents, who had arrived and seemed to have the event under control for a long time. When the best increased the pace in the final phase of the race, Wellbrock could do nothing. With a time of 51:36.7 minutes, he finished 7.4 seconds behind winner Logan Fontaine. France.

Despite all the disappointment, Wellbrock positioned the competition in relation to the climax of the summer season. “Obviously it's a little annoying now,” he said. “But in the end it's just a world championship in the Olympic year. The overall goal is a little different. That's why we have to put an end to it and look forward.”

Looking ahead to the Summer Games, he said: “I don't have waves in Paris, on the banks of the Seine. “That’s pretty good.” He wants to prepare for the cold water temperatures expected in the French capital with special training in the coming months.

Before that, Wellbrock also has big plans for Doha. In the second week of the World Championships, he is one of the medal candidates in the 800 and 1,500 meter freestyle in the pool. Despite the bad start to the World Cup, he remains confident in this sense. “Now it's time to regenerate well, stay healthy and then attack in the pool,” he said.