Indoor rowing is one of the most fascinating sports at the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing. The competitors often pull the handles of the ergometers until they are completely exhausted.
The spectators in the rows of the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA cannot stay in their seats. In the IR6 competition in front of the stage, the 30 men in the race compete sitting side-by-side, rowing on the machines for four minutes. The German competitor Moritz Meinecke leads by just a few metres. “Moritz, Moritz,” the German family & friends and supporters chant.
His toughest adversary, Henrik Martin Andresen from Denmark, is two metres behind him. The competitors sweat and gasp for air. Final spurt. The last 30 seconds! It gets louder and louder. With the last ounce of his strength, Moritz holds onto his lead as the clock runs out. He manages 1,255 metres in four minutes. The Dane finishes second with 1,241 metres. Meinecke’s time is enough for bronze medal overall when both heats are completed.
Indoor rowing has been an integral component of Invictus Games competition programme since 2014. As with Olympic rowing, the participants compete against one another using ergometers. The machine can be adapted to the competitors’ impairments. There are six categories for male and female competitors respectively. The sprint lasts one minute and the endurance race four minutes – the competitor who achieves the longest distance in the set time wins. Exciting and entertaining races, with the winner being decided by mere metres.
On Tuesday, the colour red dominates the centre stand. Team “Belgium”. Family, friends, teammates and support staff are the loudest supporters. The Belgian team consists of 21 competitors, coaches and 24 friends and family members. Nikolaus, a volunteer from Düsseldorf, provides support to the team. “I can experience great solidarity here, together we are one big family,” he said.
The supporters grow crazy when the Belgian competitor Thierry Dutrieux wins a bronze medal in the IR3 4-minute endurance race. After the awards ceremony, everyone wants a selfie with the Invictus medallist. Thierry shakes a lot of hands and gets numerous hugs.
Beaming, he explains why this is a special medal for him: “Last year in The Hague, I had problems with my arm stump and could not keep up with the other competitors. This time it was better.” Although the Italian Roberto Como closely beat him by one metre at the end of the competition, he is pleased his performance is good enough for a medal.
Pure excitement too in the IR6 women’s competition. Now it’s the German supporters’ turn to grow louder. “Come on, Julia!” they scream as Julia Eyrich pushes herself past the pain barrier. The vocal support works – with 1052 metres she earns the bronze.
Authorin: Monika Hartjes
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