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"It's all too much!"

Ammann celebrates his second gold medal win Keystone

After soaring into sporting history with his double gold medal triumph, Simon Ammann spoke to swissinfo about Olympic glory, instant stardom and his recent associations with one Harry Potter.

This content was published on February 14, 2002 - 03:54

The 20-year-old Swiss wonder may have arrived unnoticed in Salt Lake City last week, but his progress through the Olympic streets is a little more time-consuming nowadays.

Talking to swissinfo while being driven down from the Utah Olympic Park in time for the evening's medal ceremony and another round of interviews, Ammann admitted to being overwhelmed by all the fuss around him.

"I still can't believe it"

"It's all a bit too much for me," Ammann laughed. "I've always dreamed about jumping well at a major competition but to have all the media coming at me and have everyone congratulating me - it's just so much. I still can't believe it all."

Despite weighing in at just 53kg, the skinny young Swiss has certainly been making big waves this week. His success in Salt Lake seems to owe as much to his modesty as to his talent and mental resolve. Even after winning his first gold medal, Ammann said he had never contemplated the second.

"No, not at all," he told swissinfo. "I like competing on the large hill and I knew I could maybe get another good result but I never thought about winning another gold. It was just too crazy to think about."

The Potter connection

"Crazy" is one way of describing Ammann's Olympic achievements, but the sports writers in Salt Lake seem to prefer the word "magical". As a lightweight fresh-faced wizard of the air who happens to own a pair of round spectacles, it was almost inevitable that Ammann would be compared to young literary sorcerer Harry Potter.

"I haven't read the books or seen the film," said Ammann, "but I think Harry Potter flies around and I can fly too. But I'm an original, I'm not Harry Potter. There are similarities, though, so I guess it's okay."

Ammann is soon hoping to enjoy some celebrations of the sort that would leave the true Harry Potter reeling on his broomstick, but with hopes now high for Switzerland in next week's team event, the Olympic hero is having to restrain himself for now.

Partying in the mountains

The same cannot be said for the residents of Ammann's home village of Unterwasser in the mountainous Toggenburg region of eastern Switzerland. Wednesday night saw around 800 villagers raucously celebrating their local hero's amazing performance.

"I'll be doing some partying with the team, but not too much," said Ammann. "We'll be celebrating in a good way.

"I hope they're not partying too hard in Toggenburg," he added with what sounded like genuine concern. "I don't want to be responsible if things get out of hand."

After all the attention of the past four days, Ammann is hoping that the parties are all over in Toggenburg by the time he returns on February 24. There's little chance of that of course, but if things do get out of hand at the homecoming, Switzerland's sporting magician may just do a vanishing act.

by Mark Ledsom

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