The 2012 Olympics: could we beat the Germans again?
Germany is habitually in the top five Olympic nations. Great Britain is usually in the top ten. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, however, GB excelled, jumping up to fourth, just ahead of the Germans. So what about London? Can we do it again?
I think we can, and so, apparently, do they. Germany is hoping to win as many medals as in Beijing, but currently has fewer athletes (244) qualified than in recent history, and there is some concern about whether they’ll meet that target.
Strong suits for team Germany are canoeing, rowing, hockey and horse-riding. In the show-jumping, Michael Jung is the man to watch, with Nadine Capellmann (four times world champion) in dressage, and in the rowing the German Eight has been undefeated for two seasons.
Track events are usually best left to the Africans and Americans (although Stefan Schumacher has good medal prospects in the cycling time trial), but the Germans are good at chucking things. Mathias de Zordo is currently world champion at the javelin, a suitable activity for a man with a Zorro-like name, and Betty Heidler holds the world record for the hammer.
There’s another good name in the shooting line-up. Sonja Pfeilschifter is a rifle-woman of some pedigree, with three world championship golds, while Ralf Schumann (pistols) is Germany’s ‘shooter of the century’, having been Olympic champion three times already.
In the pool, names to watch out for are Paul Biedermann in the 200m freestyle, currently the world record holder. And Britta Steffen, also a freestyler, who holds the world records in both 50m and 100m.
All in all, it’s an impressive line-up, and it’s hard to imagine that, Germans being Germans, they’ll under-achieve. Bring it on!