The finals return to Berlin next week. And similar to 2019, when German champions of various sports were crowned at a multi-sport event for the first time, the athletes can feel the great importance of such a format in their planning.
“I’m really looking forward to the finals. Finally a competition without major restrictions for a long time and we will have spectators in the hall again,” says gymnast Philipp Herder, who enjoys home advantage as a Berlin resident. “If you look back at the 2017 gymnastics festival or the 2019 finals – there was always a good mood in the hall and the hall was very well filled.”
After the 2020 finals were completely canceled due to the corona pandemic and last year the competitions in North Rhine-Westphalia had to take place without an audience, the upcoming competitions are a kind of return to normal. Or even something more than that.
As at the premiere three years ago, the canoeists compete against each other on the Spree in the immediate vicinity of the Oberbaum Bridge. There are not only special conditions here because, unlike in other competitions, excursion boats pass only a few meters away from the athletes. “The excursion boats passing by will not only bring spectators, but also one or the other unexpected wave,” says Lisa Jahn from Berlin, who will be starting in the Canadier.
2019 already showed how much the finals can help to get non-specialist audiences interested in the sport. Because access to the banks of the Spree is free and there are numerous tourist hotspots in the immediate vicinity, the canoeists completed their premiere in front of unusual crowds. “I was very happy that I was in the water, it would have been a bit too full for me on land,” jokes Jahn.
Sports that are hardly known also hope for a similar effect. Speed canoe polo is – as the name suggests – a pretty fast-paced discipline that sometimes presents itself in the best of locations at the weekend. The 3×3 basketball players, who were represented at the Olympics for the first time last year, play their games at the Neptune Fountain not far from the Red Town Hall and the artists show tricks and body control in the cycling trial. Of course, with these sports, too, one hopes for the effect that tourists will make a stop.
The modern pentathlon, on the other hand, is also about image cultivation. After the disastrous pictures of Tokyo, when numerous horses and riders despaired of each other, this sub-discipline will be removed from the program after the games in Paris and replaced by an obstacle course reminiscent of the popular TV format Ninja Warrior. In the finals, however, the competition consists of four tasks – i.e. without riding and still without the new run.
The four-pentathletes are at home during the finals in the Olympic Park and on the Olympic Square. The competitions for a total of 14 sports take place at nine different venues in the city. 190 championship titles are awarded.
The finals also give a foretaste of the European Championships. Between August 11th and 21st, nine sports will choose their European champions in Munich. Experiencing such a major European event in Germany was a key reason why gymnast Philipp Herder decided to continue his career.
He says: “I thought it was worth going full throttle again.” For him, multisport events, whether on a national or international stage, are the right way to get more people excited about the sport. “The halls are fuller, there is more attention. That way, more people get to know what we’re doing.”