Ladies European Tour Member
Brazil is an exciting, vibrant and beautiful country, but not one we would naturally associate with golf. So when it comes to the country’s Olympic history, Brazil’s champions have naturally come from other sports. Gold medal performances are peppered across events as diverse as sailing, volleyball, shooting and in several track and field disciplines. At the last Games in London in 2012, the incredible judo champion Sarah Menezes was the first Brazilian woman to win a gold medal in that sport. And any talk of Brazil’s Olympic champions must always include the legendary middle distance runner Joaquim Cruz, who won gold in the 800 metres at the LA Olympics in 1984, beating Sebastian Coe in to second place.
I was thinking of these people very recently, while playing the Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro for the official practice event, the first time the Gil Hanse designed course was opened for business. I don’t want to give much away, so all I’ll say for now is that the course is in great shape and will be a true test of an Olympic champion come August. I just know that the crowds will flock to the course to see the best players in the world go head to head for gold, silver and bronze medals, the first time our sport will compete at the Greatest Show on Earth since 1904.
My aim for the season is to ensure I take my place on the first tee in the colours of the host country. If I’m lucky enough to achieve that goal, it will be the fulfilment of a life’s ambition and the culmination of an unlikely journey. The route from Curitiba on the southern coast of Brazil to the Ladies European Tour was not a straightforward one. It has had many stopovers along the way.
At the age of eight, my family upped and moved to Germany, around the time of the fall of the Berlin wall. It was there that I took up golf, to play with my father and brother Michael. I must have shown promise as I was picked for the German national team and then earned a scholarship to David Leadbetter’s Academy in Bradenton, Florida. From there, my golfing education continued at Arizona State University, with an appearance in the 1995 Junior Ryder Cup for good measure.
Given my background I have dual Brazil-German nationality. So when the Brazilian Golf Federation approached me about competing in Rio for the country of my birth, I was not only thrilled but also expecting a child of my own. My daughter Laura, is now little more than a year old, far too young to realise the significance of the five rings, but rest assured, when the time’s right, I’ll tell her everything about my road to Rio.