World Cup in Qatar: Once bullied, now world champion: Köhler’s swimming triumph

World Cup in Qatar
Formerly bullied, now world champion: Köhler’s swimming triumph

With her World Cup gold medal, Angelina Köhler made a dream come true. photo

© Jo Kleindl/dpa

Until her World Cup title in Doha, Angelina Köhler was only known to swimming experts. Who is the first German world champion in pool swimming since Britta Steffen?

As a newly crowned world champion, she treated herself Angelina Köhler a special culinary treat with her best friend. “First of all, I had brunch with Ole today. We ate donuts. That was really important to me,” said Köhler with a smile after the trip with swimming colleague Ole Braunschweig.

She had previously answered congratulatory messages late into the night. Her parents also visited her at the hotel. Köhler was the first German pool swimmer since Britta Steffen in 2009 to win World Cup gold on Monday. “I can’t quite process what happened yet,” said Köhler. “But I’m just really happy.” Despite all her joy, the 23-year-old also spoke about a serious topic.

Bullied as a teenager

“I’m just a little bit different than everyone else. I had a little bit of trouble with that as a teenager. I also had a lot of trouble with being bullied,” she said. “If you’re pretty tall, pretty skinny, have long arms and slightly bigger teeth, and you’re wearing glasses and falling over your feet, it’s pretty easy for older boys to make fun of you. But it affects me everything strengthens me in the things I do.”

In terms of sport, Köhler only swam into the big limelight at this World Cup. Behind the scenes and in the catacombs of the world’s swimming pools, the extroverted athlete was already noticed – as an extraordinarily active, almost always in a good mood and informative athlete. Köhler doesn’t pretend. Maybe she can’t do that at all. While other athletes, influenced by media training and management, think carefully about what they say, Köhler speaks freely and also addresses his own weaknesses.

“It means so much to me that even someone like me, who is sometimes a bit clumsy and forgets things, can become world champion,” she said after her triumph in the 100 meter butterfly. Köhler knows: In her well-coordinated training group in Berlin, she can be who she is.

Köhler fills the team coffers

“Your clumsiness is accepted with a smile,” said her coach Lasse Frank. “We know what she’s capable of. If she leaves something behind, the training group is there to pick it up after her.” The 41-year-old added with a smile: “Then there’s a euro in the team’s coffers – they’re already full of them.” Frank describes Köhler’s role in the team as follows: “She is our rainbow. She is the sun. When she comes into the hall, she is either late and runs. Or she comes in beaming with her rainbow socks at walking pace and greets everyone warmly.”

In addition to the coach, backstroke swimmer Braunschweig is also very important to Köhler – not just as a partner when eating donuts. After the last World Cup in Fukuoka, the two went on a trip to Japan together. “It’s always good to have your best buddy with you,” Frank said. “The two of them are one heart and one soul.” Even after their gold race, Köhler still stood there and looked directly at what Braunschweig was doing in its next appearance.

Get in the mood with Taylor Swift

Immediately before her competitions, Köhler is in her own world. She regularly freaks out in the waiting room to Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” and gets in the mood for top performance. The fact that there is a camera hanging in the so-called “call room” doesn’t stop them. “I think the people in the call room think I’m stupid,” she said, laughing.

From her coach’s point of view, Köhler’s performance on Monday is not diminished by the fact that some strong competitors were missing due to the Olympic Games next summer. “She competed here against the best in the world. If you’re not there, you can’t win anything. That’s just the way it is,” he said. “She has now reached the top of the world.” Köhler’s times prove him right. Her German record of 56.11 seconds from the semifinals was a hundredth of a second faster than China’s Zhang Yufei’s winning time at the last World Cup. Yufei wasn’t there this time.

Britta Steffen was also happy with Köhler. The 40-year-old watched the race on the screen with her six-year-old son. “And when Angelina became world champion in the 100 meter butterfly, we were really happy. A really big achievement – great race, strong race,” Steffen told ARD radio and warmly congratulated.


source site-2