The German national anthem becomes a permanent hit at the swimming world championships in open water. Leonie Beck and Florian Wellbrock also won their five-kilometer race in Japan on Tuesday, after having previously won gold over twice the distance. Four world championship titles for the same nation in these two disciplines: That has never happened before. “It’s running,” Wellbrock stated after defending his title over five kilometers and laughed. “The athletes support each other. The staff is always there and ready and fires. That is the key to the enormous success this year.”
In the interview zone, the 25-year-old and Beck fell into each other’s arms. “You did well,” said Olympic champion Wellbrock. Around two hours ahead of him, Beck swam strongly to victory. After the race, she made a heart with her hands and smiled relaxed at the camera. Like Wellbrock, the 26-year-old had already qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris with her victory over ten kilometers. “Unbelievable! I never thought that I could win gold now,” said Beck. “Wow!”
She held back for a long time in her race and then convinced in the final sprint. She won in 59:31.7 minutes ahead of Sharon van Rouwendaal from the Netherlands and Ana Marcela Cunha from Brazil. The second German starter Jeannette Spiwoks finished 13th.
Unlike Beck, Wellbrock took the lead early and swam the race from the front. The native of Bremen, who trains in Magdeburg with long-distance national coach Bernd Berkhahn, was not put off by the more than 30 degrees outside and 28.2 degrees water temperature. In the sun, the thermometer even showed 45 degrees.
Wellbrock struck in 53:58.0, 4.5 seconds ahead of second-placed Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy. Paltrinieri’s compatriot Domenico Acerenza was third. The second German starter, Oliver Klemet, who was third over ten kilometers on Sunday, swam in fourth place. Olympic champion Wellbrock won the sixth world championship gold of his career in the sea in front of the Momochi Seaside Park in Fukuoka.
“The fact that we are so superior here: fantastic! I’m thrilled,” said Berkhahn. “I would not have thought that it was still possible to win quadruple gold with the power density that exists internationally and with the science that we use.” With a victory in the relay on Thursday, Germany could be the first nation to do so win all open water titles at a World Championships.
He initially left open whether Wellbrock would be there. He still has a lot planned in the pool in the second week of the World Cup, so he could rely on regeneration. On the other hand, he also said: “I’ve now shown that I’m really very fit. We have another team meeting tonight. Then we will discuss the exact squadron line-up. We’ll have to see everything else then.