Princess Charlene – Royal Central


By Gil Zetbase, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Prior to becoming Princess of Monaco, Princess Charlene was a swimming champion and Olympian in South Africa who competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

As the Summer Olympics begin, let’s take a look at Princess Charlene’s Olympic career.

Charlene Wittstock developed a love of swimming as a child, which moved to Zimbabwe (where she was born in 1978) and South Africa, where her family emigrated when she was 12.

Charlene’s mother, Lynette Wittstock, was a swimming instructor, so the future Olympian learned the sport at home. Training throughout her teenage years, Charlene won the South African Championship in 1996, winning gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke, silver in the 50m and 100m freestyle. , and won the award for best swimmer.

Charlene went on to represent South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002 and won silver at the last Games in the 4x100m medley relay. She also won three gold medals at the 2002 Swimming World Cup for the 50m and 100m crawl, as well as the 4x100m relay.

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Charlene will compete in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics as part of the South African 4x100m medley team, although they came in fifth place and did not reach the podium.

Charlene returned to South Africa and continued to train, but an injury slowed her career, and although she attempted a comeback for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, she did not. failed to qualify and retired from competition in 2007.

But swimming did not only allow Charlene to become an Olympian: it also brought her to meet her future husband and fellow Olympian, Prince Albert II of Monaco. He spotted her during a swimming event in Monaco in 2000 and was so won over by her that he asked her on a date.

Charlene said later Vogue before her wedding in 2011: “It was incredibly flattering. After seeing me swim, Albert asked my management for permission to take me out. We spent the whole evening laughing and talking.

Prince Albert participated with the Monegasque bobsleigh team in five Winter Games: the 1988 Calgary Games, the 1992 Albertville Games, the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the 1998 Nagano Games and the Games of Salt Lake City in 2002. Outside of competition, he is also a member of the International Olympic Committee and has held this position since 1985.

For Prince Albert, being an Olympian was simply following in the footsteps of his maternal family, as the Kelly family of Philadelphia were once titans in the sport of rowing.

However, the two did not jump into an immediate romance and it took them five years to reconnect and continue a relationship. Fittingly, Prince Albert and Charlene made their official debut as a couple at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

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After her marriage, Princess Charlene started her own charitable foundation, one of the main goals of which is teaching children to swim and educating people on how to prevent drowning. She said Vogue that his experience in sport would help him prepare for his new royal role, claiming that “sport has given me motivation and discipline”.

Princess Charlene is currently the Global Ambassador for Special Olympics and has attended various global games and events on behalf of the organization. She said she was drawn to support for the Special Olympics because she believed in its mission to “use the power of sport to change lives.”

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As for their attachment to the Olympic Games, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene regularly attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games to cheer on Monegasque athletes and are seen attending events throughout the two weeks of competition.

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