There is an intriguing new rivalry simmering within a quartet of German paddlers who are aiming to drive each other on to greater heights in 2024.

As a unit, Max Rendschmidt, Max Lemke, Jacob Schopf and Tom Liebscher-Lucz are on fire at the moment.

The German crew are the reigning men’s K4 world champions and have started the 2024 season in superb style with back-to-back International Canoe Federation Canoe Sprint World Cup victories.

Their success in Poznan, Poland was another reminder that they are the team to beat going into the Paris 2024 Olympics where they seek to retain their crown.

While the men’s K4 remains their primary focus, there are also ambitions to succeed in the two-boat.

After winning as a quartet, the team then split in half to fight it out for the men’s K2 title in Poznan.

Schopf and Lemke teamed up to beat Rendschmidt and Liebscher-Lucz by just over a second to take top spot.

“We are rivals in K2 but it’s going to help us in training to push each other to the limit rather than sitting in the K4 together all the time,” said Lemke.

“It’s good that we are rivals and it is good that we challenge each other in training and competition and we are looking forward to seeing both our boats race in the Olympics.”

It is clear that Schopf and Lemke are keen to kick on as a duo after their victory in Poznan.

“The first time we did the K2 was two years ago here in Poznan but due to some health issues we were unable to race the final,” added Lemke.

“Since then, we didn’t do much K2.

“The first time we sat in the boat together in two years was one and a half weeks ago.

“There has been a lot of work to get everything in the K2 together like the footrest and seat.

“I still think there are things to improve but it is a good start.”

Rendschmidt, Lemke and Liebscher-Lucz captured Olympic gold along with Ronald Rauhe at Tokyo 2020.

Max Lemke Jacob Schopf men k2 500 canoe sprint Poznan 2024

Stepping into Rauhe’s shoes following his retirement, Schopf and his teammates claimed world silver in 2022 before sealing gold in 2023.

That momentum has continued with Germany winning at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups in Szeged, Hungary and Poznan.

Schopf believes Germany’s exertions in the winter has provided them with the “perfect” platform to shine in 2024.

“The biggest difference this winter was that I was healthy,” said Schopf.

“The last two winters were not so easy as I was ill for more than 10 weeks where this time I was almost healthy the whole time.

“We learn evet year something about our bodies and individual training.

“I think this winter was really good to improve that.

“We have a gold medal now but we are only half way to the Olympics.

“The Olympics are 70 days away and that ‘s the big goal for us.”

Pictures by Bence Vekassy

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