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Berlin's inline skate champion Briggyte Mendez: The powerbox

2005-11-14

Briggyte Mendez, the triumphant champion of the real,- BERLIN MARATHON, astounded the skating world. What must a successful speed skater look like?  This question seemed to have been answered last year. Roger Schneider, the two-metre-man, was literally a big winner in 2004.  With his extremely long legs he has a leverage effect that practically gives him a sixth gear to ride in. But now a 20-year-old young woman from Columbia, who is just barely 1.44 metres, goes and wins. So the length of the legs must not be decisive when it comes to winning in speed skating.

The question about her size is not new for Briggyte Mendez. “I am simply a little power plant,” she say, and then she laughs when she hears that German speed skating coaches call the correct skating position ‘powerbox’.  “I am the personified powerbox.”

What is decisive is how one transforms power into dynamics, says Briggyte Mendez. Part of her daily 6-hour training, which she does mornings from 6-9 and evenings from 5-8, includes regular weightlifting.

She has been inline skating since she was 14. Speed skating is a national pastime in her country. Whoever has made it to the top in Columbia already is among the best in the world. The victor in Berlin last year, Cecilea Banea, only met Briggyte Mendez briefly during training with the national team: “We have so many world class skaters. Cecilea is from Bogotá. I live in Cali. That makes it difficult to get to know each other any better."

Although Briggyte Mendez has already won numerous Junior World Championship titles and seven world champion titles in the elite class, since September 24, 2005, she knows: “My triumph in Berlin was the biggest yet. I had never raced with so many spectators, not even in Columbia, where speed skating is one of the most important sports. The race in Berlin was fantastic.”  That is also the reason why after her first visit she plans on returning to the German capital: “I have to enjoy this atmosphere again.” She will have plenty of opportunities to do so, as she plans on continuing as a professional speed skater for four or five more years, concentrating primarily on marathon races.

On the question whether she is thinking at all about changing over to ice speed skating, as many other speed skaters have done very successfully, she answers: “No,” adding with a smile, “I don’t want to race around on ice. Ice is for eating.”     Hanspeter Detmer


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