Longstanding German men’s eight coach, Uwe Bender, 63, has been relieved of his duties. It seems the decision has not come from his athletes, who released a statement to clarify their position. The German Rowing Federation cited health reasons for the separation.
Under Bender, the German flagship crew won four European gold medals, three World titles, and set a world best time in 2017. Their form dipped in the postponed Olympic year. They missed the podium at the 2021 Europeans, and won an Olympic silver medal at Tokyo 2020. After numerous post-Olympic retirements they slipped down the rankings. In 2022, at their home European Championships in Munich, Deutschland Achter failed to medal; unlike the Dutch who won a silver medal despite catching a boat-stopping crab. A month later, for the first time in 23 years the German men’s eight did not reach the A-Final of the Worlds.
“His merits are undisputed. He was very successful. Nevertheless, we must now help Uwe Bender to get well again,” said DRV chairman Moritz Petri via the German Press Agency. Some German media reports suggest there were rumours of conflict between Bender and large parts of the national team stemming from before Tokyo.
The rowers statement reads: “We, the athletes of the Deutschland Achter team, were surprised by the decision of the sports director of the German Rowing Association, Mario Woldt, that our long-time coach Uwe Bender was released from his duties. We were informed of this decision on Saturday by national coach Sabine Tschäge.” Via the Deutschland Achter.
The rowers thanked their former coach for his “many years of commitment” and wished him a speedy recovery. Adding, “We, the athletes of the Deutschland Achter team, also clearly distance ourselves from the public portrayal described in the Hamburger Abendblatt. It speaks in general terms of “the athletes” and describes the handling of internal information in very general terms. The wrong impression is created that “the athletes” are responsible for Uwe Bender’s resignation. We would like to point out that the sole responsibility for this decision lies with the German Rowing Association and sports director Mario Woldt.”
Sabine Tschäge, 52, has taken over Bender’s coaching duties.