Franziska van Almsick

Former swimming world champion and TV co-commentator

My passion for football:
Someone who spent her entire sporting career in the spotlight of fame understands the complex and complicated dynamics of elite sport. For this reason alone, she follows the progress made by the German women’s team with great interest.

I’m looking forward to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 because... "thanks to this huge event, the development of this form of the sport will receive a major boost, exactly where the rewards are at their greatest and the passion is likely to last the longest. Holding the World Cup in Germany is logical, and will reinforce the good image of the host nation around the world in the hearts of both women and men like an Olympic torch."

Career highlights: At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, she won two silver and two bronze medals at the age of 14 to become the first sports star of the newly re-unified Germany. Her overall championship win at the 1993 World Cup included three new world records. At the European championships in the same year, she won six gold medals and was subsequently named World Female Athlete of the Year. She set another new world record in winning the 200m freestyle at the1994 World Cup, before claiming silver over the same distance at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. After winning two relay bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Games, she ended her active sporting career. Her other honours include Female Athlete of the Year three times, two Bambis, and 2002 Maxim Woman of the Year.