Magdalena Brzeska (GER)
Tribute by Robin Catalano
Magdalena Brzeska is without a doubt
Germany's most famous gymnast of all time. Although she hasn't matched the
achievements of some of her teammates, Brzeska brought new style and glamour -
not to mention a rabid fan base and sponsorship dollars - to an often
Brzeska, who was born May 14, 1978
in Gdynia, Poland, received most of her training in her home country. She began
gymnastics at the age of 7, and developed her skills rapidly in one of the
strongest rhythmic training systems. After moving to Germany, Brzeska was guided
by highly regarded coach Livia Medilanski. By the time she was an elite gymnast,
"Magda" was practicing upwards of 30 hours per week.
The 5'9" modelesque blonde
first rose to prominence at the 1991 German Junior Championships, where she
snatched three apparatus golds (hoop, ball, and clubs). She took two more golds
(ball, clubs) at the 1992 German Senior Championships, and placed 5th at that
year's Medico Cup. The 14-year-old gymnast surprised many by landing in 14th
place at the 1992 European Championships, where she also helped her team rise to
In 1993 Brzeska handily won the
German National Championships, her first of 4 national titles. She also finished
2nd at the Schmiden International, 3rd at the European Cup Final, 1st at the
Austria Cup, and 12th at the World Championships (where she also came in 5th
with rope). She placed in the top 10 at all but one Grand Prix event the
following year, and moved up to 10th at both the 1994 European and World
Championships. This is when Brzeska-fever truly began; newspapers and television
stations reported that the pretty teenager was forced to bring a bodyguard to
Europeans to shield her from the zealous throngs of fans.
A strong 8th place was Brzeska's
reward at the 1995 Worlds, and she also finished in the top five in several of
that year's Grand Prix events. Her international star was officially on the
rise. Success continued to follow the popular gymnast, who, through lucrative
endorsement and modeling contracts, became one of Germany's highest paid
athletes. After an impressive start in 1996, Brzeska capped off her stellar year
with a 10th-place finish at the Atlanta Olympics.
Although she kept training in hopes
of a continued career, Brzeska was hampered by arthritis in 1997. After
finishing 10th and qualifying to three event finals at the 1997 World
Championships, rhythmic's glamour girl called it quits.
Although her extra-curricular
activities often overshadowed her gymnastics, Brzeska was a very accomplished
athlete. During the early 90s, when powerful, dramatic routines were in vogue,
the German champion was praised by many experts as, in the words of British
commentator Jackie Leavey, "a breath of fresh air." Brzeska's light
dance style, well-defined apparatus work, and refined choreography helped her
stand out in a crowd of Soviet and Bulgarian imitators.
Even better known is Brzeska's flair
for fashion; she was never seen without an alluring leotard, perfect hair, and
attractive makeup. Her sometimes revealing leotards caused more than one stir,
but most famous is her run-in with officials at an international competition in
Italy in March, 1995. When her bodysuit was deemed too "skimpy" by the
judges, Brzeska was deducted .20, moving her from second to third. After a crowd
protest, the judges reduced the penalty to .10, but the crestfallen Brzeska
still took home bronze.
Magdalena Brzeska, who speaks four
languages, is still a sought-after model and spokesperson. Her posters,
including semi-nude art photos, adorn the walls of many a smitten male fan.
the alluring Brzeska was quickly taken, marrying professional soccer player Peter Peschel in a secret ceremony. On June 22, 2000, the former gymnast became a first-time mother. She described daughter
Caprice to Gymmedia as, "Beautiful, just beautiful." The couple's second daughter, Leonie, was born not too soon after, in November 2001.
Sadly, the couple have since decided to divorce. The two children will live with Brzeska in her hometown Schmiden.
Brzeska and former German figure skater Daniel Weiss are currently working together on a gymnastics/figure skating show.
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© 2000-2002. This page was created on February 1, 2000 and last updated on October 2002.