The very best came at the end. Benedikt wagner led the sabel with his trembling little hand to the decisive goal in the 45:43 against defending champion hungary and to the crowning team gold at the european fencing championships.
But that's enough to declare the sporting crisis over? In any case, the head of the association, claudia bokel, did not know the exact answer to the question of how many percent of her vision had already been achieved with the events in dusseldorf.
After the debacle at the 2018 world championships in the chinese city of wuxi without a german medal, the 45-year-old former epee world champion had reservedly stated that she wanted to be the world's best on all levels again in 2028. Your sports director sven ressel now dares to assess: "in sporting terms, we have made a small step forward." At the world championship in budapest from 15. Until 23. July is to follow another, gladly also a rougher one.
For the european team competitions ressel's classification is correct: gold for the sabel team, surprise silver for the men's foil, a fourth place for the women's foil quartet, sixth place in the women's epee and sabel, seventh position after twelve the year before for the men's epee – that's a balance sheet that can be seen.
Especially because it looks like things are going well for the 2020 olympics after the debacle in rio: no german team qualified for the 2016 games, only the individualists max hartung and matyas szabo with the sabel and peter joppich as well as carolin golubytskyki with the foil were allowed to take the plank.
"The starting position for tokyo is much better than it was for rio," says bokel. The sabel men and the women's foil team score important qualification points in dusseldorf. Should both make it into the eight-man tournament fields in tokyo, three fencers with this weapon were automatically in the singles each.
But the problems are by no means completely solved. In the team-events you could see a lot of the spirit to always try to score more than the opponents. That pushed everyone. In the individual events, things looked less good: hartung from dormagen was dethroned as the sabel european champion from 2017 and 2018, but like alexandra ndolo from leverkusen, he took bronze with the epee.
Ressel said about the rest of the 24 starters: "in the individual they did not call up one or the other reserve." This was especially true in three disciplines: in men's foil, four-time individual world champion joppich was 19. Best german, in men's sabre it was heidenheim's stephan rein as 25., in the women's sabel, anna limbach from dormagen in position 19.
This is probably one of the reasons why claudia bokel did not dare to make a concrete percentage statement about her vision, but instead emphasized emphatically: "we still have so many ideas that we want to implement – sporting, structural, financial" – and then, at the latest in 2028, it should be possible for the competition, which has recently fallen behind in many areas, to say: en garde, German Fencing is back again.