Olympics: No golden goodbye for Giers

The Giers' last major race together ended in disappointment. Keystone / EPA Photo / AFP / Thomas Coex

Atlanta gold rowing medallists Markus and Michael Gier were unable to add to the Swiss medal tally in Sydney, finishing their last international race together in fifth place.

This content was published on September 24, 2000 - 01:09

The Swiss brothers were never able to impose themselves in a lightweight double sculls final dominated from the start by the Polish and Italian crews. Two and a half seconds behind the Poles at the halfway point, the Giers soon had only bronze on which to concentrate.

But with France and Germany battling for third and fourth place even that was beyond the Swiss pair. As Poland edged out Italy for the gold, France pipped Germany to the bronze, and the Giers had to settle for fifth place, ahead of the Japanese crew.

Despite the disappointing finale, the rowing career of the brothers from Rorschach will be remembered as the most successful of any Swiss rowing team to date.

As well as the Atlanta gold medal, the Giers enjoyed incredible success in the World Championships, winning one gold, one silver and three bronze medals in the last eight competitions.

As the Giers bowed out of the international spotlight, another Swiss pair were struggling to find their way on the sport's biggest stage.

Kim Plugge and Pia Vogel made a fast start in the women's lightweight double sculls, but were unable to hold onto their early lead. Ahead after 250 metres, the Swiss pair were soon overtaken by the crews from the USA, Germany and Romania.

By the halfway point, these three teams had moved well beyond the reach of the trailing pairs. With 500 metres to go Plugge and Vogel had dropped into fifth place, six and a half seconds behind the German boat.

There was no change to the order as the teams crossed the finish line, with Valerie Viehoff and Claudia Blasberg taking gold for Germany. The Romanians came in second, ahead of the USA, while Plugge and Vogel had to settle for fifth place behind the Australians.

Guaranteed an Olympic diploma for having reached the final, Plugge and Vogel have exceeded most expectations in coming this far so quickly. The two women only began training together last autumn.

Following Plugge and Vogel's performance, the Swiss boat in the men's quadruple sculls completed a trio of fifth-placed finishes on Sunday. Simon Stürm, Christian Stofer, Michael Erdlen and André Vornarburg succeeding in beating only the Dutch crew as the Italians sprinted for gold, ahead of Holland and Germany.

Twenty-four hours after Xeno Müller's silver in the men's single sculls, the last Swiss rowing results of the Sydney Games might not have appeared spectacular. But the achievement of getting four boats into the A-finals was unsurpassed in Swiss Olympic history.

Even if the Gier brothers are now slipping into the sport's past, the Sydney Games suggest a solid future ahead for Swiss rowing.

swissinfo with agencies

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