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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Sailors, masks, machinations: the 1964 Tokyo Games

Berlin – Tokyo 1964, Tokyo today, two Olympics: When Jurgen Noldner travels 56 years back in time, it is like a déjà vu for the former GDR footballer.

«What we noticed right away: Many Japanese were already wearing face masks. We laughed about it – but they were clever, »said the 79-year-old to the German Press Agency. The technically gifted striker won the bronze medal from the ASK Vorwarts Berlin on October 23, 1964, with the GDR selection – for the all-German team.

Olympic gold medalists Willi Holdorf (decathlon), Wilhelm «Willy» Kuhweide (sailing) and Ingrid Gulbin (then Ingrid Engel-Kramer / diving) also fondly remember the days in Tokyo – the greatest success of their sports careers. And they feel with the athletes, who will only be able to meet at the Olympic Games in the Japanese metropolis in 2021 due to the corona pandemic.

Because of the new type of coronavirus, Olympia and the European Football Championship were postponed by one year. “I don’t see the problem as dramatically for football. I am sorry for all other sports, it will be difficult for these athletes, »said Noldner, who also played in the third-place game in 1964 (3-1 against the United Arab Republic).

“It’s a pity that we narrowly lost to the CSSR. A victory would have had a good chance against the Hungarians in the final, »said« Kuppe »Noldner, the 30-time selection player (16 goals). “That was one of the best GDR teams I’ve ever played in.” Hungary’s footballers won gold.

Willi Holdorf is still really angry with the International Olympic Committee when it comes to postponing this year’s games. «The IOC has hesitated far too long with the cancellation of the summer games! The whole world has seen that this could be a drama, “complained the first German decathlon Olympic champion,” I feel sorry for the athletes who now have to completely change their planning or can no longer train. ”

Holdorf’s golden hour struck on October 20, 1964. “I was not one of the favourites and had expected bronze,” said the 80-year-old today, “but the competition went very well for me.” In the final 1500-meter race, he defended his 18-second lead over Rein Aun from the Soviet Union.

The Schleswig-Holsteiner would gladly return to the site of his triumph. “Let’s see how fit I am,” Holdorf told TEH. Then Holdorf could also cheer on Mainz’s Niklas Kaul in summer 2021 – Germany’s youngest decathlon world champion.

A crazy East-West thriller happened before Kuhweide’s gold regatta in Sagami Bay – for the Berlin native with a happy ending: IOC President Avery Brundage decided only half an hour before the start that Kuhweide was allowed to start. The GDR sailor Bernd Dehmel fell victim to the two-week dispute between the two German NOKs.

Kuhweide kept his nerve when the decision was made. In his Finn dinghy, he won two of the seven races before Enoshima – gold! «The Japanese sailors knew about the problems with the start authorization. They carried me triumphantly on their shoulders from the Finn to the port area, »said the 77-year-old from TEH. “They were the first to let me feel that you deserved this victory.”

Kuhweide, who lives in the town of Carefree near Phoenix in the US state of Arizona, still has goosebumps at the award ceremony today. «I was overwhelmed by my feelings! It felt like a dream. » The former pilot is healthy and lives at home «mostly involuntary quarantine. My piano playing is also more honoured. »

The effects of the Corona crisis on world sports also concern the former world-class sailor. “Sports such as athletics are worst hit because the period of maximum performance is quite short in contrast to sports such as sailing, where you can also call up your maximum performance over somewhat longer periods,” explained the four-time world champion.

Ingrid Gulbin also remembers the Tokyo games well. «It was a unique experience! There is no other event where you could collect more impressions and encounters. It still overwhelms me now, »said the 76-year-old, who was given a very special honour at the opening. “I didn’t expect to be the flag bearer,” she said, “I was afraid to carry the flag through the stadium and hold it against the wind.”

The athletes of the all-German team felt the breath of the Cold War even in the Far East. «The tensions in the team were controlled by politics. The athletes had no problem with each other, »said the three-time Olympic champion, who had won gold from the 3-meter board and the tower twice in Rome four years earlier. «After the games, there were no more points of contact. Only after the unit were several athletes invited by industrialists for a trip to the USA, »said Ingrid Gulbin. “There was a reunion and we made many friends.”

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Synthia Rozario
Synthia Rozario
An editorial staff member at The Eastern Herald. Formerly, correspondent of The Eastern Express, Hong Kong.

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