Ice Skating: Witt wings her way towards Olympic dream

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KATARINA WITT, the 28- year-old former East German double Olympic champion, finished second at the German championships in Herne to qualify for next month's European championships in Copenhagen.

It was the first step towards her ambition of returning to the Olympic arena, in Lillehammer later this winter, after turning professional in 1988. Taking advantage of a new ruling, allowing paid skaters to be reinstated as amateurs, Witt will make the German Olympic team if she finishes as one of the top two Germans in Copenhagen.

Witt showed much of her old flair and grace on Saturday with a performance that included four triple salchow and toe-loop jumps, including two flawless combinations in the decisive free programme.

Witt, who apart from her Olympic gold medals, has won four world, six European and eight East German titles, said: 'It was an exceptional feeling to stand there on the podium again after nearly six years. I wanted to show that if you have a dream, go out and try to fulfil it no matter what people say.'

The championship was won by 16-year-old Tanja Szewczenko, who dazzled with six triple jumps, including loops and lutzes.