The German Champion Gustav Schäfer

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Before Gustav Schäfer (1906-1991) began rowing, he played water polo, hockey, and football. But above all, he was interested in swimming, being a member of the swimming club in Dresden. It was also as a swimmer he got his nickname, “Gummi” [rubber], when he overran a favorite swimmer on a 1,500-metre course with the length of his hand, his opponent said: “Der Hund war zäh wie Gummi.” [“The dog was tough as rubber.” – alluding to Gustav’s family name, Schäfer, ‘shepard’.]

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In 1929, ‘Gummi’ Schäfer was approached by the coach at Dresden Ruder-Verein and began thereafter successfully to row in fours and eights. However, by 1934, he was concentrating on the single scull, having joined another rowing club in Berlin, Skuller-Zelle, Berlin-Grünau, which had an English professional coach, Dan Cordery. With Cordery, Schäfer found the perfect trainer. In 1934, a little surprisingly, Schäfer became the German Champion in the single sculls, beating the favourite sculler, Herbert Buhtz. The same year, Schäfer also went to the European Championships in Lucerne and took the championship title in the single sculls.

The following year, ‘Gummi’, failed to defend his German title against Buhtz, but beat Buhtz at the 1936 German Championships and was selected to represent Germany in the single at the Olympic rowing event in Berlin. In the final, Schäfer did not have any problems winning the Olympic championship title with a couple of lengths ahead of Josef Hasenöhrl, Austria, and Daniel Barrow, USA. The favourite before the race, Ernst Rufli of Switzerland, Diamond Challenge Sculls winner both in 1935 and 1936, finished fifth.

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Published in: on August 7, 2016 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

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