Klaus Riekemann – Their Time.

Klaus with medal.

Klauss says with calm certainty, “Age is in the head.  You don’t want to let it hold you back”.  A sentiment that saw him get back into serious competitive rowing following a fifty-year break from the sport.

He started rowing aged 16 as he liked the fact “you could do it whilst sitting down”.  He made friends with a potential teammate, the same weight (slim) and height (very tall) as him and they decided to enter a competition.  Klauss says they didn’t really have a clue what they were doing but somehow they won.  The president of their rowing club insisted on getting them a coach.

By 1958, still young, they competed in the European Rowing Championships where competitors sneered at them, “we are not competing with children”.  So that was it, they had to win that race. And they carried on for the next few years. In 1960 Klaus got a gold medal at the Rome Olympics.

In 1961 things changed. Klauss was competing in Berlin when there came a knock on the door and he and his teammates were told to get out quickly as the border between East and West Germany were about to close.  They got to the gate and saw the tanks.  That was the night the Berlin Wall went up.  Soon after this he decided to get a “proper job and an education” and became a sales engineer in the UK where he met his wife.

He was happily living this more conventional life when in 2011 he got chatting to someone at the pub who then recommended him to the local rowing club.  That was it, he was in again.  In 2011 he went to his first World Masters and lost every race.  The next year he competed again and said “losing is not an option.  My family will be there”.  This time they cleaned up winning everything.  “It is determination”, he says, which keeps him going.

For the past decade, he’s travelled all over the country to train with like-minded senior rowers and competes annually in the British Rowing Masters Championships, the European Rowing Masters, World Rowing Masters, and the Henley Masters.

Klaus is now a dual UK/German citizen, choosing to take citizenship because of Brexit. When he’s not working he’s protesting as an activist against Brexit. He can also be found trimming his neighbours’ hedges, hitting the gym, and jumping off 20-foot waterfalls when he’s not busy entertaining and amusing his family.

“Through Their Time, Laura Page, Photographer and Rebecca Vassie Memorial award winner, has captured the lives of older people during the pandemic, setting out to challenge the perceptions of ageing. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the intricate stories captured throughout the past year. So keep an eye out on STOPageism and across our social channels!

To learn more about Laura, her perception of ageing and ageism, and to discover more about Their Time, click here.”

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