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German Olympic team off to worst start since reunification

After three days of competition Germany was yet to win a single medal at the Rio Olympics by Monday evening - a new low since reunification a quarter century ago.

German Olympic team off to worst start since reunification
Paul Biedermann. Photo: DPA

Great hopes had been placed on the shoulders of swimming world record-holder Paul Biedermann in his attempt at the 200m freestyle on Monday evening. But the 30-year-old couldn't come up with the goods, finishing at a disappointing sixth in the final solo race of his career.

In table tennis another hopeful, Timo Boll, came up short, dropping out to Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna in the round of sixteen.

So by the end of day three, Germany was still waiting on its first place on the podium – the first time this has happened in the history of reunified Germany.

“We have to be honest – our start hasn’t been what we had wanted. To say anything else would be sugarcoating the facts,” said Alfons Hörmann, head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).

But Hörmann called for patience from the German public while warning that the competition was “bloody difficult”.

“In the spirit of self-analysis, we must make clear that in world sport there is a certain standard that we can’t keep up with in many areas.”

SEE ALSO: Ten German athletes to watch at the Rio 2016 Olympics

But it hasn’t only been under-performance that has cost the German team so far. Luck has also played its part. Markswoman Barbara Engleder missed out of a bronze medal by less than a millimetre in the women's rifle competition on Saturday.

And the German team as a whole never believed they were sure to win a medal in the first three days.

”We always knew that we had few serious chances in the first three days,” team captain Michael Vesper said. “So we’re not going to drive ourselves crazy. There are still 13 days of competition to go – every day is a new one.”

Even before the games started, the DOSB’s sport director Dirk Schimmelpfennig warned that the team could have a slow start, calling for “endurance and patience”.

Similarly, Hörmann already appeared to be lowering any expectations of a triumphant return from the games when he said pre-tournament that “it isn’t about the absolute number of medals” but rather “the character, heart and passion” which athletes show.

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UKRAINE

German football club ends partnership with Russia’s Gazprom

German football club Schalke 04 announced Monday it had prematurely ended its partnership with Russian gas giant Gazprom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

German football club ends partnership with Russia's Gazprom

The deal between the second-tier German club and Gazprom had been due to run until 2025 with Schalke receiving around €9 million ($10 million) per year in sponsorship.

Had the Gelsenkirchen-based club won promotion back to the Bundesliga at the end of this season, the sponsorship figure would have risen to €15 million annually.

Schalke had already removed the Gazprom logo from their shirts for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Karlsruhe.

In a statement, Schalke said their finances were “unaffected by this decision”.

“The club’s management is confident that it will be able to present a new partner in the near future.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germany has scuppered Nord Stream 2 but there are questions left to answer

Gazprom representative Matthias Warnig resigned from the club’s supervisory board last Thursday.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, interim president of the German Football Association (DFB), had already hinted there could be financial aid for Schalke if they split from Gazprom.

“If this requires the solidarity of other clubs in Germany to get them out of this situation, then we have to discuss how we can manage that,” Watzke told ZDF.

READ ALSO: Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday

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