Kroppen, Bauer and co-authoring a Munich archery Oktoberfest in June
“I wish for many spectators to support us.”
Bauer is part of the German recurve women’s team, along with Michelle Kroppen and Charline Schwarz, who will shoot for gold on home soil on Sunday. Kroppen will also be shooting for individual gold and mixed team gold with Florian Unruh – who himself is shooting for the recurve men’s title. Bauer, meanwhile, will shoot for individual bronze.
And it will be a superb atmosphere as the championships now move to the temporary finals arena under the statue of Bavaria at the Theresienwiese in the Bavarian capital, which is likely to attract a large home crowd to cheer for the host nation’s archers.
This is the same Theresienwiese which is the official ground for Munich’s world-renowned Oktoberfest, the world’s largest people’s fair synonymous with the clinking glasses of one of Germany's finest exports – which won’t be on offer for the athletes this weekend – beer.
Perhaps the current crop of German recurvers could soon be added to that list of fine exports, too.
With a guaranteed silver on Sunday, it will be the sixth consecutive medal at the European Championship for the German recurve women’s team after two silvers and three bronzes in the past five editions. A gold medal would be only the team’s second in the 27-edition history of the championships (after Boe, France in 1998).
“I am really happy, it is a demonstration of team strength that we hadn't expected,” said German national coach Oliver Haidn to DSB.de. “We have a lot of fun doing things and you can feel the togetherness within the team.”
You can see the togetherness too, spread across the wide smiles within the German camp. The women have even given themselves a nickname – the banana crew (various reasons have been floated) – after back-to-back silver medals at the first two stages of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya and Gwangju.
Bauer also took individual bronze in Turkey – and then mixed team gold with Felix Wieser in Korea.
This week in Munich, Kroppen has been in blistering form, seeding top with 675 points and going for a trio of titles on Sunday. Should she win the recurve women’s title, it will be the first for Germany at a championships with a history dating back to 1968.
“The very first match showed me that you have to be there immediately and never give up. That opened my eyes and things went really well from there,” said the 26-year-old, referring to a five-set epic against Gaby Schloesser in the third round, her first match of the last eliminations day. Kroppen would go on to defeat teammate Bauer, 6-4, in the semifinal.
“We told each other before that we wanted to enjoy the match and it was a high-quality match,” said Michelle. “It’s a shame, I would have preferred to meet Kathi [Bauer] in the gold final but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for her and hope that we’ll be on the podium together afterwards.”
An arena adds different pressure and changeable conditions – but an opportunity for this entire German squad to stamp its mark.
“When you’re in the final, anything is possible,” said Haidn. “You don't need big predictions. Those who can stay with themselves have small advantages. There are no more favourites in this situation.”
But a passionate and partisan home crowd could easily be a small advantage. Bauer is more than happy to encourage it.
“They are also welcomed to be loud, that’s what we want,” she said. “At the second stage of the World Cup in Korea we had to play against the hosts and their spectators and now it’s the other way around. That’s why we want big and loud support.”
“It’s what I wished for, that was the dream; that we could repeat the performance from the World Cup stages where we won two silver medals. We’re getting better at it and it’s a lot of fun.”
Getting better, having fun and winning medals.
Can Kroppen, Bauer and Schwarz – and Florian Unruh – take gold medals and European titles on Sunday?
There are four available for the home team.
Perhaps Oktoberfest won’t be the biggest party held in the Theresienwiese this year.