German anthem and the hakka
The fans, who bravely stuck it out in Sunday’s heat, sitting in the stands at the Wejherowski pool complex, were treated to a real show of coordination, flexibility and talent by those competing in the kayak polo tournament. They also got to hear the Das Deutschlandlied (German national anthem) twice – though the crowd favourite was definitely the unofficial song/chant “hakka” performed by New Zealand’s kayakers.
With today’s heat so intense that fans along the pool were wishing they too could jump it, though that privilege was reserved for the men and women polo players battling for TWG 2017 medals. In that contest, German efficiency proved to be unconquerable.
After a morning semi-final that saw the German women take down the defending world champions from New Zealand 6:1, the winning team and their trainer decided to head off and seek the shelter of some air-conditioned space to wait for the final. They found it close by in the press office on the first floor of the indoor part of the complex. The French – their opponents in the final – advanced to the final by defeating Italy 4:3 (using a golden goal in the extra period) and likewise sought relief on the ground floor, which was not air-conditioned. The result? In the deciding battle for gold, the Germans blew away a ragged French team by a score of 5:0 (after falling to them in the group stage 4:3) and so successfully defended the title they won four years ago in Cali. Italy took third place.
Although Poland’s female kayakers failed to win any of their six matches in Wrocław, they did manage to prove how far they have come in catching up to the world’s elite. Dariusz Pilarz’s pupils fought hard, especially in matches with world champion New Zealand (a 7:5 defeat) and world third-place team France (7:5) as well as Italy (3:2).
In the men’s final, Germany also proved to be well-prepared to defend their gold medal from the 2013 Games. They took down Italy 4:1 while Spain claimed bronze.
The host nations’s men’s team had a chance to show off their skills. Two valuable victories in the group phase – over New Zealand (6:5) and Tawain (9:5) spoke for themselves. Though they fell to eventual champions Germany 6:4, Norbert Watkowski’s lads fought on equal ground, holding a 4:4 tie up until 3 minutes to go in the match.
In the 5th-place match today, Poland’s trainer again tried his best to spur his team to victory, but this time New Zealand claimed victory for itself 6:4. Their delight at winning was evident as they exited the pool and performed their traditional dance/song – hakka.
“We’re glad to have been a part of such a great event like TWG. I think our national teams showed here that we have great potential. In our first match, we had a slight case of nerves, probably because it was our first match of the Games. But even so, 6th place is still a success for us,” commented Polish trainer Watkowski.