My parents tell me that I was an active and lively child. Apparently by the age of two, I could ride a bicycle. They tell me that once, when I was five, after a long ride, I got off my bike and told them I wanted to sprint all the way back home. I then ran for 45 minutes.
I was born in Gera, a city in Thuringia, in the heart of Germany My parents were school teachers who taught subjects such as geography, history and chemistry. But since they were very athletic, they also handled physical education and sports.
After the Berlin Wall came down, my parents got better opportunities. My mother got a job at German Telecom and my father joined a textile company as a personnel administrator.
Both of them were marathon enthusiasts and good all-rounders. Be it gymnastics or skiing, they participated in everything. My mother was the German vice-champion in marathon and mountain running. She also won the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos twice.
I followed in my parents' footsteps. At the age of seven, I began training in athletics, judo and was good at high-speed Rollerblading. I'd compete with my friends almost everyday. My friends rode bikes while I ran. SometimesI beat the cyclists. That was the beginning of my running career. I participated in cross-country races and track and field races when I was eight and won 11-kilometre races that were meant for adults. When I was 13, I won the Thuringia state championships in the 2,000- and 5,000-metre races. It did not take me long to decide that my future lay in professional running.
I attended boarding school at the Federal Sports Centre of Erfurt, capital of Thuringia. After high school, I moved to the Olympic Training Centre in Saarland (a state on the border with France) and became a member of the German national athletic team.
However, in my last German Junior Championship, I broke one of my metatarsal bones (a group of five long bones in the foot) during the 3,000-metre steeple chase. I decided to take a break for a year and devote my time to sport studies in the city of Erlangen in Bavaria. But I missed the daily sporting action and competitions. So, at the age of 24, I took up swimming and cycling.
During my running career, I hadn't enjoyed the pressure of training and competitions. But while training for the triathlon, the fun element was predominant. A triathlon is a special kind of endurance sport where the athlete focuses on various disciplines. He or she must dominate in all three (sprinting, swimming and cycling are the most common) and that makes it all the more interesting.
My fellow competitors always tell me thatI remain humble despite success. I cherish this as the best compliment I've received. I am perceived as a fun-loving person who exudes positive energy. Sport gives me immense pleasure.
My first success in a triathlon at the Bavarian Regional gave me renewed confidence to take up competing professionally in triathlons. In 2010, I bagged the Vice European Champion title for middle distance and second place at the Ironman Championships, in Germany and was second in the Ironman in Wisconsin, USA.
Faris Al Sultan, professional triathlete and winner of the 2005 Ironman World Championship, encouraged me to participate in the Abu Dhabi Triathlon. I came to Abu Dhabi for the first time in November 2010 and participated in the Adventure Challenge with the Triathlon team. Now as part of the triathlon team, I hope to make history in this city.
I train almost every day. I have one sport-free day a week during which I prefer to sleep to regenerate.
I'd highly recommend cycling and swimming for women because you can strengthen the cardiovascular system in the process. Aerobics is also a sport women should do as it helps improve coordination and agility.
The one thing you would like to change about yourself?
For the triathlon, I'd like to swim like a fish. Personally, I must work hard on my English.
Your advice to aspiring athletes?
Young athletes should ensure they train for overall endurance, strength, agility and coordination. The training volume and intensity must carefully be built up step by step to avoid overheating the body.
Your thoughts on Abu Dhabi?
It is an impressive metropolis. On the one side there is the desert, which fascinates me with its different colours, and on the other side is the sea, meaning great beach holidays.