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Olympian Dierolf stops career after heart problems
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Friday, 25 July 2008
ImageEurope´s number six Germany was facing a really shocking news on the way to the Olympic tournament in Beijing, China. One of Germany´s most experienced players, 32-year-old Steffen Dierolf from SSV Esslingen, had to stop his long career immediately due to a serious heart problem – less than three weeks before his second Olympic appearance. He will now be replaced by youngster Marko Stamm from national record champion Wasserfreunde Spandau 04, the sun of head coach Hagen Stamm.

The veteran player already had a heart problem since 2000, but now failed a medical test at the local centre of excellence in Stuttgart and was forced to stop his career immediately. “I don´t want to die,” Dierolf said after the shocking news. Due to the high risk Germany´s National Olympic Committee would have denied the nomination for the Bejing Games in any case, so that another veteran player after Italy´s Francesco Postiglione will miss the Olympic tournament for almost the same reason. Dierolf has to undergo a heart surgery in the next weeks due to this life-threatening situation.

Dierolf is one of the key players of the of the team played 312 international matches for Germany since 1997, more than any other player in the current team. He took part in four FINA World Championships and five European Championships, but his best results were the fifth place at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and the bronze medal at the 2005 FINA World League Super Final in Belgrade, Serbia. Dierolf scored one of his most important goals in the opening match of the Athens Games, when Germany beat home team Greece 5-4 in front of 5,000 spectators and made the first step on the way to the sensational fifth place.

The team members were visibly shocked. “That´s a real tragedy,” German head coach Hagen Stamm said, reminding to Dierolf´s tough fight to get back to the team and to qualify for Beijing. Dierolf suffered a serious shoulder injury in January 2007 and underwent three surgeries. He did not play any national league match for one year and got back in the team right before the FINA Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Oradea, Romania, where he launched the comeback of the German team by a crucial in the crucial head-to-head duel against Italy.

Germany had already announced the final 13-play-squad for the Olympic tournament right after the last game at the European Championships in Malaga, Spain. He will now be replaced by 20-year-old Marko Stamm, the sun of head coach Hagen Stamm. Stamm´s sun-in-law Marc Politze is also playing for the team since 1997. Marko Stamm has played six international matches up to now and will be second new face in the team after 20-year-old Julian Real of Amateur SC Duisburg, so that German is now visibly younger than observers had expected only a few weeks ago. Starting on Friday, Germany will face Hungary, Russia and World champion at the Unicum Cup tournament in Budapest, Hungary.