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Drehmel first tried his hand at the javelin throw and the decathlon before switching to the triple jump in 1966. He competed for ASK Vorwärts Potsdam and trained under Heinz Rieger. His first big success came with a win at the European Cup in 1970, where he was the first German jumper to set a record with the first-ever jump over 17 meters. His jump of 17.16 meters to win the European Championship in 1971 did not qualify as a record due to excessive tail wind.
At the end of his career in 1977 Drehmel became a youth coach for long and triple jump athletes. At the demise of the GDR he lost this position, and later joined the state sports association in the state of Brandenburg. At present he is the honorary jumping coach at SC Potsdam. He resides in Stahnsdorf near Potsdam.