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Müller "not disappointed" with fifth

Müller's golden dream evaporated in the Lucerne sunshine

(Keystone Archive)

Swiss rowing star Xeno Müller has insisted that he is not disappointed despite finishing fifth in Saturday's single sculls final at the world championships in Lucerne.

After taking an early lead, Müller was soon overtaken by his three strongest challengers, World Cup winner Olaf Tufte of Norway, Slovenian double sculls Olympic champion Iztok Cop and Czech veteran Vaclav Chalupa.

But despite losing sight of all three and being overtaken by Australia's Duncan Free in the last few metres, Müller insisted that he wasn't disappointed with his showing in Lucerne.

"I think I had my final in the semi-final," the California-based athlete told swissinfo. "It was very important for me to reach the final and I had an exceptional race in the semis. I just didn't have the capacity to race twice like that."

"A medal would have been really beautiful, an A+," Müller admitted. "But I'm not disappointed. Not winning a medal aside, it's given me a chance to thank the people here personally and show them that I care."

Trying to explain why he was unable to repeat his semi-final form in Saturday's final, Müller said his decision to take a lengthy rest after the Sydney Olympics may have affected his strength.

"But mentally it was necessary to take that break," he added, "and when you look at it this is actually my best result straight after an Olympics. In 1993 I didn't even qualify for the world championship sculls and after the 1996 Games I needed a total break and took 1997 off. This time though I made the finals."

While Müller's victory at the Atlanta Olympic Games five years ago has already assured him of his place in rowing history, the Swiss star is still looking for his first gold at a world championships.

Along with his silver medal from last year's Olympics in Sydney, Müller has three world championship silvers, having finished runner-up in 1994, 1998 and 1999.

But his surprisingly upbeat mood after his latest race suggests that Müller has no intention of giving up on his golden dream just yet.

"At the end of the race I made a gesture to the crowd to say 'oh, well, nothing this time' but also to tell them that I'm not over the hill yet and I will be back again - with more power."

by Mark Ledsom, Lucerne


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