Olympic Series. Lemmer’s rowing made history, but who helped him never became known


Not all that glitters is gold in sports. In the 125 years of the Summer Games, ten Friesians have won silver and bronze. Series in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics (starting July 23). Part 1: Roelof Klein. 1900, Paris.

Roelof Klein, born in Leimer on June 7, 1877, took third place with the Dutch eight at the 1900 Olympic Games. In Paris there was a great disappointment about this. The rowers convincingly won the series. According to coach coach Dr. Meurer, the fact that he achieved “only” third place in the final was due to the overweight of the helmsman.

Klein continues to claim his place in Olympic history on the Seine. Together with François Brandt, de Limester won the first Olympic competition for the Netherlands. The duo learned their lesson in the preliminary round. For this race, Amsterdam doctor Hermann Brockmann had entered the “Monday” role as helm. With a weight of 60 kilograms, he weighed twice as much as the captain of the French team (a boy of almost 12 years old).

Brandt and Klein were allowed to qualify for the final as the “Fastest Loser”. This did not align with her. Brandt later said the conditions were not equal. All the French teams row with the kids in the captain’s seat, who were replaced by a lighter one once they reached 25kg. We had to pull 60 kilos with Brockman.”


The French found a lighter helm in the run-up to the final. Brandt and Klein capitalized on this, leading to one of the greatest mysteries in Olympic sport. The Dutch couple left Brockmann on the beach and took the “expelled” French boy with them. Since this boy was by law very light, an additional 5 kg of weight had to be added to the rudder. Weight savings gave Klein and Brandt the win after 7 minutes and 34 seconds. There is a picture of the winners with the French boy among them. His name was never traced back.

The question is whether Klein and Brandt knew that they had become Olympic champions on August 26, 1900. Many athletes before 121 in Paris assumed they were participating in competitions as part of the World’s Fair. No medals were awarded in 1900 either, and they were given four years later. Klein and Brandt, members of the Laga Association of Delft Students of Rowing, received a bronze statue depicting a singing lady called La Chanson. He is 57 cm tall and weighs 14 kg.

In Laga’s memorial book, published in 1926, Brandt wrote: “At the Dutch border in Roosendaal, where I passed customs my prize, a customs officer, having read the inscription, asked me my prize, a very heavy bronze lady, in my arms: Are you Brandt am Klein? ? Evidence of Holland’s sympathy for our actions. The customs officers did not want to know anything about the payment of the incoming fee for that statue’.


Born in the Zoetermeer in 1874, Brandt’s estate was found a century later with one of his granddaughters in Australia. It took the International Olympic Committee another twelve years to attribute the victory of the rowing duo to the Netherlands. Until then, the IOC took the position that due to the French boy’s publication there was a mixed national team.

Brandt and Klein graduated as engineers after their success. The former gained national fame as a fierce opponent of alcohol abuse. In 1938, Brant was appointed bishop of the Free Catholic Church. He died in 1949 in Nardin.

After graduation, Klein began working at Shell. De Limester immigrated to the United States. He died on February 13, 1960 at the age of 82 in Montclair, New Jersey.

His obituary in the New York Times indicates that he knew he had achieved Olympic victories. ‘the master. Klein, representing the Netherlands where he was born, won the duo rowing competition with FA Brandt at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.

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