Finals in Berlin: because of fringe sport

At the Eastside Gallery, the section of the Wall in Berlin-Friedrichshain, a couple is standing on Thursday and wants a third party to take a picture of them. But it takes a long time for that to happen. Even in the morning at 10.30 a.m. the square is so busy that someone keeps scurrying past the lens. No question, if there’s somewhere a fringe fringe sport wants to garner a few viewers, look no further.

And so an estimated 200 visitors gather on the banks of the Spree to follow the competitions in the many foreign sport canoe polo. That’s almost 200 more spectators than is usually the case with canoe polo in the speed version – most succinctly described as water polo in a one-man kayak.

The finals are coming up in Berlin these days, the championships in 14 sports, including exotic ones such as canoe polo or 3×3 basketball, but also classic physical exercises such as gymnastics or swimming, which are becoming less and less recognized in this country. In this context, those responsible in the German sports associations often speak of a ghettoization of sport and mean by this the neglect of many German sports due to the declining interest. This is the basis of the idea of ​​the finals, a bundling of as many German championships as possible, so that something more is available for the remainder of the sport.

Even at the first edition in 2019 – also in Berlin – athletes and spectators were enthusiastic. And after the Corona years in sports, everything indicates that it will be the same this year. The finals also stand for producing hitherto largely unknown heroes.

On Thursday, René Kirchhoff often causes a murmur in the stands on the banks of the Spree. The 23-year-old is a goalkeeper and multiple goalscorer for the Havel brothers in Berlin, Germany’s currently best team in canoe polo.

Kirchhoff is representative of the love of sport that it takes to stay on the ball in fringe sports like his. You can hardly make money with it. Nevertheless, he has become an exceptional athlete. At the age of just five, Kirchhoff began canoe polo, a sport that requires tremendous coordination skills and a lot of strength. The two 1 x 1.5 meter goals are two meters high. And there is hardly anyone in canoe polo who fends off as many balls with a paddle as Kirchhoff.

The highlights of the finals are yet to come

In the semi-final he lets the water sports friends Liblar despair, first he scratches several violent throws from the corner, then he himself scores the first two goals for the Havel brothers Berlin. Canoe polo’s Manuel Neuer was also difficult to overcome in the final and also scored the best goal in the 7:3 win against Essen. The first title at this year’s finals goes to Berlin. “You only experience such an atmosphere at the finals,” says Kirchhoff. And what is it like to write sports in the rather dirty Spree? “This is not a problem. We are used to much worse from competitions in Italy.”

The profitable thing about such bundled championships is not only the discovery of hitherto foreign sports or heroes, but also the format on television or streams. The Finals are Olympic Games in miniature. Competition after competition follows at short intervals on ARD on Thursday. From the canoe polo on the Spree, the switch goes to the cupola hall in the Olympic Park, where, among other things, the men’s saber fencing takes place (winner: Matyas Szabo), to the Max-Schmeling-Halle with the trampoline and apparatus gymnasts, to the triathletes at the Olympic pool and shot put at the Brandenburg Gate (winner: Sara Gambetta). It is an entertaining program with touching stories.

The trampoline jumper Aileen Rösler, for example, has not been able to pursue her sport since November last year. The head couldn’t keep up. Fears plagued the 22-year-old, who dislocated a cervical vertebra in a competition in 2017. After her Bundesliga comeback a week ago, she also competes in the finals in Berlin and is an excellent third when Leonie Adam wins. “Competition security is still missing, but it can only get better,” she says.

So there are many happy faces on the first day of this year’s finals, but not only. Gymnast Andreas Toba, for example, lands on his pants when he jumps, and some triathletes are irritated to angry. The bike course is insufficiently cordoned off. Again and again a pedestrian or hobby cyclist crosses the path. Otherwise, however, it is a promising start to the finals, the highlights of which are still to come.

By Editor

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