BONN, Germany -- Anja Fichtel will complete in only one event at the Barcelona Olympics, the women's foil fencing team event.
But she remains one of the most extraordinary athlete among the 492- strong German team, unafraid to bare her thoughts or her body.
Fichtel is a four-time world champion and 1988 Olympic gold medalist in the individual and team competition. When she compete again in the team event, it will be merely 43 days after the 24-year-old fencer gave birth to son Laurin.
Fichtel is known as a rebel, and she has been an outspoken critic of Emil Beck, the powerful head coach at the national fence center in Tauberbischofsheim. In June 1991, Fichtel described Beck as 'a man possessed, who does everything for succes.'
'Those who keep quiet have an easy life. But somone who dares to offer criticism will be given hell,' she said in an interview with Der Spiegel news magazine. 'Nobody wants changes because of the success. But nobody cares who wins the medals. You weren't treated as a human being, just a number.'
Fichtel also accused Tauberbischofsheim officials of interfering in her private life in an effort to separate her from her boyfriend. She moved to Vienna in 1990 to live with her boyfriend Merten Mauritz, whom she married this past April.
On the wedding day Fichtel was seven months pregnant, and she gave birth to Laurin in June.
'I know a lot of people consider me mad. But I want to prove to them that it's possible,' she said, explaining her Olympic ambitions. 'Those who only look at success shake their heads and don't understand how someone could become pregnant in an Olympic year.
'And those who consider pregnancy a disease shake their heads and say, how can she do this.'
She won a national championship in her fifth month of pregnancy and continued training until mid-May. The break from fencing lasted little more than one month as Fichtel resumed training in late June in Tauberbischofsheim, but under her personal coach Harald Hein.
Doctors were stunned by her fitness, and Hein still considers her 'the best fencer in the world,' although she narrowly failed to qualify for the individual Olympic competition.
In late spring, Fichtel also spoke out again on Tauberbischofsheim and Beck's comment that 'Fichtel is intelligent, maybe a little too intelligent for a woman.'
'I don't think this is directed especially against women, because Tauberbischofsheim only wants fencers who keep their mouth shut. Women and men,' she told Sports magazine.
'Successful athletes with an interesting personality, but without an opinion of their own, that's what he wants.'
Fichtel added her thoughts on the status of women.
'I believe a woman has a good role in society, and I as a woman have had no bad experiences in sport or private life,' she said. 'As a girl you can easily twist men around your little finger. I tried that at a very young age with my father, and then it just continued.'
To underline her femininity, Fichtel last year posed half nude in a glossy German magazine. Fellow athletes were inspired by that gesture. Earlier this month similar photos appeared of her Barcelona teammates Sabine Bau and Zita Funkenhauser.