Claudia pechstein is one of the five candidates for the role of german flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the winter games in pyeongchang, despite her controversial past and the turmoil surrounding the olympic accreditation of her partner.
the german olympic sports federation (DOSB) named the 45-year-old speed skater on saturday in the preselection alongside ski racer viktoria rebensburg, luger natalie geisenberger, nordic combined athlete eric frenzel and national ice hockey player christian ehrhoff.
Pechstein is considered a controversial choice because she was suspended a few years ago on suspicion of doping due to elevated blood levels. However, a DOSB expert commission later judged this to be a "misjudgement". Pechstein was a "victim, not a perpetrator," said DOSB head alfons hormann, referring to her successes of "historic proportions". But he says he understands that some people are skeptical.
Pechstein said Saturday that the nomination made her "very happy". "if i could carry the german flag into the stadium for my seventh olympic participation, that would be a great honor for me and pure motivation," said the 45-year-old speed skater. "it would be a great dream come true, comparable to winning a tenth olympic medal."
the olympic champion is competing in her seventh winter games in south korea and can also rely on the support of her partner matthias grobe, who received a supervisor accreditation from the DOSB as a mental coach. In the past, functionaries and members of the Bundestag sports committee are said to have felt threatened by grobe, but the Berliner denies this.
fans now decide on the flag bearer in an internet vote on teamdeutschland.De as well as the athletes of the german olympic team. The vote runs until 4. February. Both votes are equally divided in the evaluation. the result will be presented on 8. February announced, one day before the opening ceremony.
In addition to previous successes and the greatest possible diversity of candidates, the DOSB also cited their role model effect as criteria for selection. The nominees had to "embody a fair and manipulation-free competitive sport not only with their performance, but also with their personality and attitude," they said. There were "far more" candidates for the role in the 154-strong german olympic squad.
With the exception of ice hockey pro ehrhoff, all the flag bearer candidates have already won olympic gold, pechstein even five times. Geisenberger celebrated two Olympic victories in sochi four years ago, frenzel triumphed there in the individual combined race. Rebensburg won the giant slalom in vancouver 2010. "it is a huge honor to be included in this group of candidates alongside such top athletes. the nomination alone fills me with great pride," said national defending champion ehrhoff of the cologne sharks.