Thomas Luthi, Motorcycling world champion
It only took Tom Luthi 51 Grand Prix to be crowned 125cc Motorcycling World Champion. Ninth place at the Spanish Grand Prix in Valencia in November 2005 was enough for the 19-year-old from Emmental in Switzerland to secure the title.
Luthi first began riding in 1997, and by the end of that season, he had already made it up to third in the Swiss championships. In 1998 and '99, he finished second, and the following year he reached the highest rung on that particular ladder when he was crowned Swiss champion. A move up to the German ADAC Junior Cup followed, where he caught the eye of Daniel Epp, who immediately took him under his wing.
Epp's financial support enabled Luthi to compete in a full IDM season a year later, as well as entering seven 125cc GPs. On 6 November 2005 at the Spanish Grand Prix in Valencia, Luthi became the sixth-youngest 125cc world champion in history.
He was, however, a disappointed man when FIFAworldcup.com caught up with him after the SwitzerlandUkraine match.
Are you a big football fan?
I love the EUROs and the World Cup, but I don't really have much time during the regular season, because I travel so much. I have been to a football match before, though.
Where did you watch the Ukraine match?
I was in England, with my coach Andy Ibbott. My team-mate Sandro Cortese and I were having a training session with him.
How do you rate Switzerland's performance?
I thought we were really good in the final minutes of extra time, where they really tried to give it their all instead of just settling for the lottery of penalties.
Who are your favourite players?
Ludovic Magnin and the coach, Kobi Kuhn.
Have you seen any of the other FIFA World Cup matches?
I obviously watched all of the Switzerland games. The only time I missed out was when I was in Holland we were at a Grand Prix in Assen and all of the Swiss people in the team were really looking forward to the match. The whole team gathered in our caterer's tent in the paddock, but try as I might with the remote control, I couldn't find the game the Dutch were showing the other group match. We ended up having to get the score via text messages.
Who would you like to see in the Final?
Anyone, now that Switzerland are out
Are you disappointed that Switzerland were knocked out, or proud that they can now claim to be among the best 16 teams in the world?
Of course I'm a bit disappointed, that's only to be expected. As a sportsman, you should always aim for the top to keep your motivation fresh that's the way I think in any case. But obviously, what Kobi Kuhn has achieved with this team is incredible, and I'm sure that Switzerland is proud that they will now get some international recognition, particularly with the EURO 2008 coming up, which we will be co-hosting.
What do you think ended up deciding the game?
Nerves, when it came down to penalties.
Are you looking forward to the 2008 UEFA European Championships in Switzerland?
Of course, I'm really looking forward to it. I think that it's great for Switzerland and I hope I'll be able to see some of the games. The problem for me is that the Motorbike GP season always coincides with EUROS and the World Cup.
Which was the first FIFA World Cup that you followed? And who was your first hero?
I've got tickets for the Final, I'm really looking forward to it, and that will be my first live match. I never really had a hero as a kid, but there were lots of players I admire and respected for their performances.
Current projects: 2006 Motorcycle Grand Prix season