Ice Skating: Witt set for comeback

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The Independent Online
KATARINA WITT, the double Olympic champion who dominated women's figure skating in the 1980s, plans to make a comeback in the 1994 Winter Games.

The 27-year-old Witt retired from competition to skate in professional shows and make films after winning her second Olympic gold for East Germany in the 1988 Calgary Games.

Yesterday, though, Witt announced that she planned to qualify for the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics in Norway and she could be competing again as early as March. The International Skating Union, the ISU, confirmed that the German ice skating federation had made an application for Witt to be reinstated as an amateur.

Witt, who won four world and six European titles, said she had missed the tension of competition. 'I have been thinking about a comeback for a while. I enjoyed skating in the shows but I miss the nerves you get in competition.

'I don't see it so much as a comeback because as a professional I have hardly been off the ice. I want to prove that professionals do not forget anything when they retire from competitive skating.'

Witt said she would team up with her former trainer, Jutta Muller. Under recent rule changes, professional skaters can now return to ISU-run competitive skating. 'As far as I see it there is nothing to stop the application being accepted,' Baert Haesler, the ISU's general secretary said.

Witt won her first major title in the 1983 European Championships before taking her first world title and Olympic gold medal the following year. She was portrayed in East Germany as a shining symbol of Communism. But, After the collapse of the GDR, she faced criticism from East Germans who resented the privileged position of sports stars in the Communist society.

'I want to represent a Germany that is peaceful now,' she said. 'When the Wall fell I was glad to be free to do what I wanted to do. But I need a new goal now. Privately, I have always wanted to compete at one more Olympics. It's going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of hard training.'

Even in her late 20s, Witt could become a force in the sport again.