As a double world champion and Olympic champion, Florian Wellbrock is the hunted at the World Championships in Budapest. There is also a lot of competition from your own team - but that only spurs the swimming star on even more. A top trio wants to push themselves to peak performance.
Florian Wellbrock conceded his first defeat before the World Cup - against twelve-year-old Vincent. On the ARD show "Klein versus Groß" the schoolchild drew significantly more lengths with a water cup on his forehead than the Olympic swimming champion. "Vincent was really big and showed me that you should never underestimate your competitors," said Wellbrock with a smile.
That shouldn't happen to him at the swimming world championships starting on Friday (until July 3rd). In Budapest, the 24-year-old wants to successfully defend his two world titles in the pool (1500 meters) and open water (10 kilometers) and finally end the 800-meter curse. The times of understatements are over after his coup in Tokyo. "At my level you go to the edge of the pool and want gold. I don't need to stand there and have my pants full," Wellbrock told NDR.
You can tell: As an Olympic champion and double world champion, Wellbrock has developed a different self-image, even if he "still looks left and right". The man from Magdeburg loves competition - and it couldn't be any bigger in his own training group. Lukas Märtens, four years his junior, swam out of Wellbrock's shadow in April with three world best times and a German record over 800 meters freestyle. After the beginning of the war, they were joined by the Ukrainian double European champion Michailo Romantschuk.
The top trio pushes themselves to peak performance, and it is not uncommon for Wellbrock to lose out. "But then he fights back and takes it as an incentive," praised head coach Bernd Berkhahn. There are no jealousies, Wellbrock assured. "We shake hands after every hard unit and look each other in the eye again," he said in the SID interview, "no matter who was the fastest".
In Budapest, however, he wants to be number one - first in the Duna Arena over 800 and 1500 meters freestyle and later in his triple start in Lupasee. In order to survive this marathon, Wellbrock placed more value on basic stamina and the ability to regenerate during the preparation. "You'll see to what extent that affects his speed in the pool," said Berkhahn, "I'm curious."
Wellbrock still has a lot planned. Unlike his wife Sarah, who is currently concentrating on her law studies, his focus remains on competitive sports. There is a lot to win in the next three years, with four world championships and the Olympics in Paris alone. "You might think you'd be happy with Olympic gold and want peace and quiet," Wellbrock said, "but that leaves me hungry for more."
His gold medal for the almost perfect 10-kilometer race in Tokyo is now "in a safe deposit box," revealed the real estate agent, "I don't even look at it anymore." But the videos of his race and the subsequent award ceremony often run on his laptop. "I get a lot of strength from that," he said. Florian Wellbrock will probably not watch the lost duel against little Vincent anymore.