Bobsleigh Olympic champ happy not to be "like Cristiano Ronaldo"

Francesco Friedrich seeks more titles at next month's World Championships, but not fame.

By Andrew Binner ·

Bobsleigh double Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich is a hard man to please.

He piloted the German sled to gold medals in the two-man (tied first place) and four-man events at PyeongChang 2018.

But where most Olympic medals enjoy pride of place in champions' trophy cabinets, his are relegated to the sock drawer.

The message is clear - Friedrich believes he is capable of more and is seeking a different kind of glory.

“I need new challenges. I have won everything but I am not satisfied. I am fascinated by records that last forever,” he told Welt.

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Aiming high

The 28-year-old police officer has a total of seven world titles, two short of the record held by Italian Eugenio Monti.

Friedrich has four two-man bob world crowns, and victory at next month's World Championships in Whistler would see him match Monti's five-in-a-row from 1957 to 1961.

He would then have the opportunity to become the sole record holder a year later on his home track in Altenberg.

In addition to the two-man record, the stats aficionado is also targeting honours in the four-man.

"The record is three wins in a row, held by André Lange, who won from 2003 to 2005," he told Welt.

"If I were to become world champion every year until the Winter Games in 2022 in Beijing, I would also have this record for myself.

"But that will be more difficult than in the two-man. It is sometimes more complicated to combine four guys under a chassis than two in a smaller sled."

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Friedrich and his 'dream team'

At this point it should be noted that the blond-haired driver already has one record: the youngest pilot to win a World Cup.

In 2013 at Altenberg, he won his first world title at 22 years old in the two-man alongside Jannis Backer.

He has also tasted disappointment. At Sochi 2014 he finished eighth and 10th in the two-man and four-man respectively, despite being one of the favourites.

But Friedrich soon bounced back and is also now eyeing Olympic records too.

"Do you know what the ultimate coup would be? To repeat the double Olympic victory in Beijing," he told Welt.

"No pilot has done that yet. That would be amazing. My pushers are all world class, without them I would be nothing. You can call us a dream team."

Fame no motivation

The double Olympic champion is barely recognised outside of his native Pirna, and that's exactly the way he likes it.

"I don’t want to be a global star like Cristiano Ronaldo or Boris Becker."

"Being a global star through my sport is a Herculean task. For that we would need more public presence. Unfortunately, our season is only over four months," he told Welt.

"I can live very well with my current reputation. I want to have a private life without having to protect myself from paparazzi."

"I still have to find sponsors, knock on their doors and annoy them. We still have a free ad space on the calves. This shows how difficult it is to find supporters despite the successes."

Home comforts

Friedrich started the new Bobsleigh World Cup season in typically dominant form last month, winning both races at the two-man opener in Sigulda, Latvia with Martin Grothkopp.

A week later, the pair teamed up with Thorsten Margis and Candy Bauer to reform the gold medal quartet from PyeongChang.

They were second to fellow German Nico Walther and his crew in the first race in Winterberg, Germany, but went one better in Race Two.

This weekend at his home track of Altenberg, there will be two-man and four-man events with Friedrich - back in front of PyeongChang brakeman Margis in the two-man - a strong favourite for both.

And he told Welt he has no problem dealing with pressure or expectation.

"I am always the hunted. I always manage to be in top form for the finals. Why this is, I cannot say with certainty.

"I do not have a secret recipe for it. It works."


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Number of medals

2 Olympic medals


Olympic Games

2 Olympic Games