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 overlooked sport.
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 7th.
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.