(born 2 August 1953 in Hamburg
) is a German rower
and is one of the greatest single scullers ever. And, with the possible exception of Australia
's Stuart Mackenzie
, the greatest to have never won an Olympic Gold Medal. He won a record 11 Olympic and World Championship medals in the single scull, including a record 5 Gold Medals in the single scull event at the World Championships. Kolbe's rivalry with Finland
's single sculler Pertti Karppinen
, which stretched over 14 years, is legendary.
In 1975, Kolbe won his first World Rowing Championship
in the single scull. He was named German Sportsman of the year for this achievement. He went into the 1976 Olympics
as the favorite. On the day of the Olympic finals, the wind was fierce and the course difficult. Kolbe led the entire race only to be passed in the closing moments by Karppinen
who had trailed badly during the early portions of the race. Kolbe's reward was a silver medal.
Germany boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics
to protest the Soviet Union
's invasion of Afghanistan
. Kolbe left the single scull and rowed in the German National eight (8+), which raced in several European events. His rival, Karppinen won the Gold Medal at the Olympics.
At the 1984 Olympics
, Kolbe faced his rival Karppinen once again. Kolbe fought for and got the lead early in the race. He slowly began pulling away from the other rowers. Karppinen languished far back. Over the last thousand meters of the race, Kolbe... Read More