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Row to Tokyo

Welcome! SXULLS tells the story of Germany’s best scullers and their dream of the Olympic Games. Join the athletes until Tokyo 2020!


15 German scullers, 3 boat classes and only 7 seats available. The young scullers have a long and hard way ahead of them. Who will make it into which boat and fulfill his dream of the Olympic Games?

Time to Tokyo 2020


Trailer for the Web Series


The Project

SXULLS gives an exclusive and unprecedented insight into the selection process of top-level sport. The film crew accompanies the male sculling national team for over 20 months on their way to Tokyo, not only telling the story of the golden moments. More information on this can be found here.

The mission starts

Since November 1st, 2018, Hamburg is the new federal base for the German men’s scull centre. Any athlete who wants to keep his chance for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 must give in to this reorganization. For many athletes, this means a huge change in their lives.

“KING KARL“ – Episode 01

Karl Schulze is one of the most famous and successful scullers in Germany. He has achieved almost everything, but now he wants to make history.


Athletes & Coaches

They are students, sports soldiers, family fathers. Above all, the 15 athletes and 3 coaches have a passion for rowing. Here you can get to know all the protagonists and learn a lot about them.

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The coaches

Marcus Schwarzrock, Dirk Brockmann and Karsten Timm don’t have an easy job. They have to decide who will be in which boat at the end. And they also pursue their own goals.



Stephan Riemekasten is a true all-rounder. He speaks three foreign languages, plays several instruments and is also a young father of a daughter. For his Olympic dream, he goes for broke.



Water is Oliver Zeidler’s favorite element. He had been a competitive swimmer before he opted for rowing three years ago. But also on land, the Bavarian has his strengths. 


“TOLE” – Episode 03

Tim Ole Naske was on of Germany’s best sculler´s in the past two years. Nevertheless, he wasn’t nominated for he World Cup in 2018. This was a serious setback for the 22-year-old, who doesn’t lose sight of his big goal. 


Pit stop with Stephan

Stephan Krüger is a constant in German rowing. For over ten years now, he is part of the national team. This time, he wants to be in a particular boat. 


Step test with Dr. Gunnar Treff

Before the selection process starts, all athletes have to do different tests. Typical for rowing is the step test, which is conducted by the performance diagnosticians several times a year .



Winter training camp under the sun of Erba in northern Italy.
On the Pusiano Lake the athletes focus on their physical basics for the hard process of the selection. A new member joins the team and the fight for the seats slowly becomes tight.

“ROW TRIP” – Episode 04 (Part 1)

The rowing soul is delighted, because the athletes like to rowing most with their boats on glassy water and sunny weather. But also a training camp has its rules.


“ROW TRIP” – Episode 04 (Part 2)

Oliver Zeidler, Stephan Krüger, Tim Ole Naske – those are three contenders for the seat in the single scull. Each of them has his very own strengths. In Erba they practice head-to-head.


“ROW TRIP” – Episode 04 (Part 3)

In the end the coaches select the rowers for the boats. The double scull could become highly competitive. Only the most successful boat of the last years causes some worries.


Fight for the single scull

The first tests in Hamburg and Ratzeburg finally introduce the selection process. Now everyone has to show his paces. First spotlight is on Oliver Zeidler, Tim Ole Naske and Stephan Krüger as the single scull will be nominated first.

Ergometer-test // selection – part 1

The ergometer test is the starting point of the selection and well known in the world of rowing: 2,000 meters – human vs. machine.


Pretest single scull / selection – part 2

More than just a final rehearsal for the German Championship in Cologne: the single scull races in Hamburg-Allermöhe.


Experts talk with Lauritz Schoof

Lauritz Schoof is one of the most successful German rowers in history. He knows the importance of pretests and his best friend Stephan Krüger very well!


“SHOWDOWN IN COLOGNE” – Episode 05 (Part 1)

The German Championships are not just about the title. Already in the quarter-finals, there is a hard fight for a place among the first twelve. Not everyone achieves this goal.


“SHOWDOWN IN COLOGNE” – Episode 05 (Part 2)

In the finale of the German Small Boat Championships it comes to the final decision. But Oliver Zeidler leaves no doubt that there can be only one champion.


Fight for the double scull

After the selection of the single scull, the remaining scullers are looking for a place in the middle or big boat. Some of them try this as a team, others have to find each other first.

“TEAMPLAYER” – Episode 06

Lars Hartig and Timo Piontek are the top dogs in the fight for the double scull. They are boat partners and good friends at the same time. That’s also why they want to fulfill their big dream together.


Plan B

Stephan Krüger and Tim Ole Naske were focused on the single scull a long time, but after the victory of Oliver Zeidler at the German Small Boat Championships new opportunities did arise inevitably.


The double sculls

At the International Wedau Regatta decides, who drives the German double sculls in this season. These German duos compete against each other: Lars Hartig / Timo Piontek, Stephan Krüger / Tim Ole Naske, Max Appel / Hans Gruhne, Stephan Riemekasten / Henrik Runge, Ruben Steinhardt, Samuel Tieben (from bottom to top right).

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” – Episode 07

The highlight of the fight for the double scull takes place in Duisburg! Lars Hartig and Timo Piontek against Stephan Krüger and Tim Ole Naske. A hard fight, with a lot of tension and big emotions.


“FAR AWAY” – Episode 13

Professional sport means above all renouncement. Timo Piontek, for whom last year was anything but easy, knows that too. At the World Championships in Linz everything goes well for him and the quad – until the final race.


The decision

The boats are nominated and head coach Marcus Schwarzrock relates to his motivations. Not an easy week for the head coach.


This is the team!

Oliver Zeidler in the single scull, Stephan Krüger and Tim Ole Naske in the double scull and Lars Hartig, Max Appel, Timo Piontek and Karl Schulze in the quadruple scull & Hans Gruhne and Stephan Riemekasten as sparemen. The squad for the EM!

European championchip

The European championship in Lucerne is the first inventory for the sculler. The double and quadruple scull compete internationally for the first time in new occupations and Olli Zeidler has to compete in the single scull with the world elite.

“IN & OUT – Episode 08

The role of a spareman is ungrateful for every competitive athlete. Therefore the European Championship was for Stephan Riemekasten one of the most difficult regatta of his rowing career.


European Champion

Olli Zeidler’s steady rise seems to have no end. Also in Lucerne he outclassed the international scullers and crowned himself the new European champion.



The last 250 meters! Stephan Riemekasten and Tim Ole Naske comment on the finish of the M1x A-final of the European Championship and are up to the last with their teammate.



The international competition is also impressed by Olli Zeidler. Damir Martin even has a nickname for him.



The European Championships in Lucerne should be the first pointer to the international competition for Stephan Krüger and Tim Ole Naske, but the new German double scull team has yet to find its way.


Sleepless nights

Head coach Marcus Schwarzrock is not satisfied with the performance at the European Championships. He sets first changes in the quadruple scull.


Fight in the quad!

The single and the double scull are firmly manned, but in the quadruple scull is still movement. Not every position seems safe. Who will have a seat in the big boat at the end?

Second chance

Unlike the European Championships, several national teams per boat class can be nominated. At the World Cup II in Poznan, Hans Gruhne and Stephan Riemekasten start together in the double scull and want to show what they are capable of.


“HEART TIMES” – Episode 09

Max Appel is a rather quiet guy. But in the last months, it has not always been easy for him to keep his composure. Too much has happened in his life for that.


Check up with Michael Ehnert

After the intervention at his heart, Max Appel has another check-up in Hamburg’s Asklepios Klinik St. Georg. Michael Ehnert, director of the Institute of Sports Medicine and Prevention, explains the incident from a medical perspective.


Last man standing

Stephan Riemekasten does not give up! At the World Cup III in Rotterdam he wants to call on his strengths in the single scull.


“UNDER PRESSURE” – Episode 10

After another fourth place at the World Cup II in Poznan head coach Marcus Schwarzrock exchanged the strokeman in the quad. At the last regatta before the World Championship, Hans Gruhne takes over the command instead of Lars Hartig. Who can best withstand the pressure?



Selection is done. At the prep training camp for the world championships the boys now work together and not for themselves anymore. The German sculling team is fine tuning for the season highlight in front of a beatiful scenery.

“Lucky Hans” – Episode 11

Hans Gruhne finally made his way to the stroke in the quadruple. One of his best friends was waiting for him.


Two Generations

Stephan Krüger and Tim Ole Naske already showed a few times what they are capable of in the double scull. Working together in this boat is running more smoothly every day. But what is possible at the world championships?


Rowing by Numbers

Oliver Zeidler made his way up to world elite pretty astonishing. But is his performance measurable? Sport scientist Mark Amort knows more.


Conclusion from Weissensee

The room colleagues Olli Zeidler and Stephan Riemekasten draw a very personal conclusion towards the end of the training camp in Weissensee.


WRCH 2019

The season highlight has exceeded all expectations. Severe setbacks and grandiose successes are close together in Linz. In the end all three sculling boats achieved their main goal: qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

Coaching Zone

In Olli Zeidler’s final race, we were allowed to be very close to the side of the man who was probably the most excited, his father and coach Heino.


“DOUBLE KNOT” – Episode 12

Rarely has the international field of competitors been so strong and close together in the double sculls as this season. For Stephan and TOle, the World Championships is not really smooth, but the big goal, Tokyo 2020, is tangible.



At the World Championships in Linz, Stephan Riemekasten supports his team-mates as a spareman best and has only one motto for the upcoming Olympic season: attack!



Head coach Marcus Schwarzrock is not completely satisfied after the end of the World Rowing Championship. On the contrary. Within the team, he still sees great room for improvement.


“SPECIAL ONE” – Episode 14

So far, the season has been fantastic for Oliver Zeidler. In the final of the World Championships there ar strong guys waiting. While Olli is on his own in the race, father Heino cheers loudly away from the track. What a thriller.


Coming next

That was the year 2019. How are the SXULLS athletes going in 2020? You can see it here.

The long way to Tokyo


Single scull is taken – who will make in one of the other boats?

In Duisburg the preliminary decision for the double scull has fallen. How will the coaches decide?

The team is selected – nine athletes are nominated for the European Championships in Lucerne

Rowing European Championships – in Lucerne (Switzerland) the team has to prove itself for the first time internationally

World Rowing Cup III – the dress rehearsal for the World Cup will take place in Rotterdam (Netherlands)

Training Camps – in Weißensee (Austria) and Munich will be working on fine tuning for the World Championchips

Rowing World Championship – the season’s highlight! In Linz (Austria) the boats have to be qualified for TOKYO 2020

First training 2020 – the Olympic season begins and the tickets are redistributed


The biggest dream of every competitive athlete is to take part at the Olympic Games. From July 23th to August 8th, 2021, Tokyo will host the Olympic Games for the second time in history. Who will succeed in the end and realize his dream? Sign up for the newsletter and don’t miss out on the long journey to TOKYO 2021.