Biathlete Katarina (Kati) Wilhelm of Schmalkalden, Germany is a sergeant in the German Armed Forces. She is a five-time biathlon World Champion. Wilhelm was a member of the German cross-country ski team at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, but upon discovering the sport of biathlon in 1999, Wilhelm achieved nearly instant success.
At the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games she was the most decorated female biathlete, winning a silver medal in the 10-kilometre pursuit, and gold medals in the 7.5-kilometre sprint and 4 x 6-kilometre relay.
Wilhelm carried the German flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games where she won one gold and two silver medals.
Vancouver 2010 — Every time I think of the next Olympic Winter Games, it seems like such a long way for me to go, but I’m really looking forward to taking part in these fantastic competitions near Whistler.
I have been to Alberta and Canada several times where I have grown to love the vast country and the nice people. My time there in 2010 won’t be a relaxing holiday, I know, but I’m sure I will enjoy my stay there.
For me Vancouver is related with great ambitions. The preparation for this great event already began, in fact, after the Olympic Winter Games in Torino. My training has to be built up steadily, so that you can show your peak performance at the right time. The most important thing is to maintain high motivations for this long period.
For me, one thing is always the same from my first to my last Olympic Games — the great excitement of it all.
I remember Salt Lake City in 2002, my first Games. At this time I still was a no-name athlete in the sport of biathlon. There was no pressure on me from the public, but I demanded a great deal of myself. And what happened then, I still can’t explain to this day. I won two gold medals and one silver medal, and so became the most successful athlete of the Salt Lake City Games. Wonderful! A dream came true, which I hardly dared to dream.
That experience showed me, in an early period of my career, that I can do anything if I believe in me. After the Salt Lake City Games there was a great hype around me that was not always easy to deal with. A photo here, an interview there — and me? Honestly, it took a time to realize that success is nice to enjoy, but most important is to concentrate on the next tasks. So, I worked hard to match my Salt Lake City performance in the next few months. I think I managed to accomplish that — at Torino 2006, I climbed up the highest step of the podium again.
For Vancouver 2010, I really hope to see many fans in Vancouver and Whistler. They make the Olympic Games special in their unifying force. The Olympic Games in 2010 will be my last and I’ll definitely try to carry on my successful Olympic story.
In Their Words is a celebration of the two-year countdown to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. This 17-part series is comprised of personal stories written by Olympians and leaders with a passion for the Games. Visit vancouver2010.com every day from February 12 to 28 for a fresh story of inspiration, triumph and hope.