Pether-Michael Kolbe? When television offered only three programs, one of which had a snow squall hidden in the frame due to reception problems, the Olympics featured a crime thriller starring a North German and a Finn named Pertti Karppinen. Title of successful series: Two men in a boat. There were actually two of them, these long, thin, pointed, with huge giants in the middle, muscular arms extended around the oars (skulls).
Kolbe vs. Karppinen, the 2000-meter duel of rowing’s best, kept the rowing world on its toes for more than a decade. And it led to a typical categorization where counting is done. Two Olympic finals against Karppinen, two golds for the Finn ahead of Kolbe. Since the Hamburg-raised West German was forced to concede defeat to East Germany’s Thomas Lange for gold in Seoul in 1988, the public has given him the title of “eternal runner-up.”
He never complained about it – publicly
The winners of these fights keep a trilogy in mind, each part lasting about seven and a half minutes. It begins in Montreal, on Notre Dame Island on the St. Lawrence River. Today there are a few boats bobbing in the Olympic Rowing Canal, Formula One circling the old swimming pool, the splendor of 1976 long gone. But it’s not Kolbe’s picture in the lead, Kolbe’s on his way to Olympic victory, coming off with huge moves. Who could take the gold from him, a guy who only reached the semi-finals through repechage games and was in fifth place?
In the last hundred meters, Karppinen passed shot after shot and won by 2.5 seconds. Kolbe also led in Los Angeles in 1984, and four years later Seoul thought it was his turn because Karppinen was no longer able to generate power. What remained was the image of a bent Kolbe, hunched forward in the boat, exhausted by the tension that blackens the eyes of the rowers, dejected by great disappointment. He never complained about it publicly.
The man from Lower Saxony was already annoyed that he was remembered as the namesake of the syringe. Kolbe’s syringe was reportedly the reason for a robbery in 1976. However, above all, it represents an attempt by West German doctors to provoke increased productivity. It was reported that 1,200 of these bodies were introduced during the summer games in Canada.
The contents, cocarboxylase and thioctacid, were not on the anti-doping list. De jure, the mixers of the Federal Republic were let off the hook. But the spirit of manipulation has long taken possession of her. Kolbe swore that he did not take anything during the anabolic steroid phase of the sport. But there is no doubt that there was “systemic” doping in the West German team around him.
“Eternal second” and Kolbe syringe
There is also evidence of systematic doping in the GDR since the adoption of State Plan 14.25: widespread use of prohibited substances in the autumn of 1974. Olympic champion Lange says he was stopped by his coach. But he couldn’t rule out unintentional ingestion.
The “eternal second”, Kolbe’s syringe, two catchphrases contrast with three Olympic dramas that dwarf even Kolbe’s five world singles titles. Anyone who sees them understands that great sport requires at least two. Peter-Michael Kolbe died last Friday at the age of 70 after a long illness.
Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine
I am a sports journalist with over 10 years of experience covering news, events and stories from around the world. I have written for several online news outlets and have also been published in print magazines. I am currently working as an author at the World Herald News, where I cover primarily sports-related stories.