Germany aim to stop the slide at Beijing Olympics

July 16th, 2008 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 16 (Xinhua) Having topped the medal table at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games, the modest and precise Germans are going to keep their feet firmly on Beijing ground as they aim to at least match the sixth-place finish they achieved at the Summer Olympics at Athens four years ago. “We have not set gold medal targets yet, but we aim to consolidate the status we have achieved in Athens. Because I believe the competition in Beijing will be very fierce,” Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic Committee (GOC), told Xinhua.

Germany won 57 medals including 14 golds and finished fifth on the medal tally in Sydney. But in Athens, they only won 49 in total with 13 golds and were surpassed by a resurgent Japan, well behind superpowers the US, China, Russia and Australia.

If they hope to stop the slide in the sweltering heat in August, the “ice and snow kings” have to fuel their medals drive in the traditional disciplines.

Canoeing, handball, women’s football, and equestrian are the Germans’ favourite events in summer Olympics.

In Athens, the canoeing team gained four golds and nine medals in total. However, Germany’s dominance on the water might be challenged with the retirement of 46-year-old ace kayaker Birgit Fisher, who has won eight gold medals over a record of six different Olympics including twice representing East Germany.

In her absence, the 21-year-old promising star Fanny Fischer, who picked up two golds in the 2007 World Championships, is tipped to play a leading role in kayak’s K2 class.

Up to now, more than 200 German athletes have qualified for the 29th Olympics, with a total of 450 expected to constitute the final delegation, the biggest in western Europe.

Among them, Britta Steffen, the former world record holder in women’s 100 metres freestyle, would become one of Germany’s brightest prospects in the pool. However, the current holder and Sydney Olympics gold medallist, Libby Trickett from Australia, will pose a threat to the 24-year-old German.

In team sports, after wining the 2007 World Cup in China, Germany’s women footballers have the strength to clinch the gold and to overthrow the United States’ long time dominance in the Olympic arena.

As the 2007 world champions, the German men’s handball team hopes to bounce back from the bitter defeat to Croatia in the finale in Athens and grab its first Olympic gold medal in 28 years.

On the hockey field, Germany will hope to wrestle the Olympic crown from Australia and regain the world number one spot.

In athletics, Germans could hardly challenge the US and Russia, especially after Lars Riedel retired early this month from a discus throw career that included an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta and five world titles.

Germany’s equestrian team was deprived of three gold medals in Athens due to the accusation that the champion horses “gold fever”, “cockatoo” and “gold love” had taken performance enhancing drugs.

German riders aim to prove their strength and reputation in the saddle again this time, especially after they won the world championships in Aachen earlier this month.

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