Claudia Poll first Costa Rican Olympic gold medalist, International Women’s Day.

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As has become customary at Paradise Costa Rica we like to celebrate International Women’s Day by telling a little about the stories, lives, challenges and triumphs of illustrious Costa Rican women, who with their work, dedication and effort have managed to put the name of our country in the highest or have played a transcendental part in the progress and development of this our homeland.

On this occasion we want to refer to a modern heroine, still fresh in the memory of the Costa Rican community. A woman who was born in neighboring Nicaragua found in Costa Rican waters the ideal space to shine. Bring her name to the Olympic podiums and win gold in the 200 meter freestyle swimming discipline. We are talking about Claudia Poll.

Claudia Poll

Born in Managua Nicaragua on December 21, 1972, daughter of Bernard Heinrich Poll and Thekla Katharina Ahrens, both German and younger sister of Silvia Poll, also Olympic medalists and Costa Rican diplomat. She emigrated to Costa Rica with her parents after the outbreak of the Nicaraguan civil war in 1979.

That same year Silvia and Claudia started swimming classes at the Cariarí Club in Heredia, tutored by Franciso Rivas, a leading figure in Costa Rican swimming. Claudia is also a business administrator and mother.


In 1989 at the age of 13, he obtained for Costa Rica seven gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championship (CCCAN), achieved 7 tournament records and entered the world ranking for the first time, in the 200-meter freestyle event.

In 1991 he participated in a Canadian swimming championship with a broken hand that was bandaged before the competitions. Despite this, he achieved sixth place in the 400-meter freestyle classification and eighth in the 800-meter freestyle.

In 1992 she won 7 gold medals in Panama and the times that she made it placed her in seven world rankings.

In 1993, he returned to participate in the Pan Pacífico de Natación in Japan, where he won a gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle, a silver medal in the 400-meter freestyle, and a bronze medal in the 800-meter freestyle, with which he became the first Latin American to win a gold medal in the Pan Pacíficos.

In 1994, she attended the VII World Swimming Championships in Italy, where she won, for the first time for Costa Rica, a World Championship, in addition to obtaining a bronze medal in the 200 and 400 meters freestyle and the seventh place in the 800 meters freestyle. .

Additionally, she attended the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg winning a gold medal and setting a new world record in the 200-meter freestyle, as well as a silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle.

In 1995 during the II Summer Olympic Festival, in Brazil, she won four gold medals and was declared the best swimmer in the tournament, the best foreigner and the best technical brand.

She then she participated in the «Maré Nostrum Tour», where she won all eight finals, set six records and improved all of her records. In addition, she was ranked among the top in four world ranking events. That same year, in the World Short Pool Championship, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he also achieved for the first time for a Costa Rican, a world record: 1:55 “42 in 200 freestyle. In addition, he got another medal gold in the 400-meter freestyle test, setting the tournament record.

Atlanta 1996 Olimpics

Claudia Poll arrives in Atlanta 1996 being number 5 in the world. Claudía arrives with an impressive track record and marks that would have allowed her to be Olympic medalists at the Barcelona 92 ​​games. Along with her are the Germans Franziska van Almsick and Dagmar Hase.

Of them Franziska was the favorite for the gold medal. According to Francisco Rivas, he and Claudía were alone in the Costa Rican delegation, while the Germans were part of a large delegation that also had considerable public support.

The plan for the day was for Claudia to maintain second place for the first 100 meters of the race avoiding wearing down so she could aggressively compete for the gold medal during the last 100 meters.

However, as soon as the competition started, Claudia was in first place, Francisco was nervous because he thought that perhaps he would not be able to maintain the rhythm and the first position throughout the race. However Claudia was confident, full of energy and she said “feel confident that Franziska could not reach her.”

And she was right, with a time of 1:58:16 Claudia Poll won the gold medal for Costa Rica and also the first gold medal for Central America in the Olympic games.

Four years later Claudia would also win 2 Bronze medals at the Sydney Australia Olympics.

Other Achievements

Al año siguiente, hizo los mejores tiempos de su vida en los Pan Pacíficos, cronometrando 1:57″48 en los 200 metros libre, con medalla de oro, 4:06″56 en los 400 metros libre, con medalla de oro y 8:29″05 en los 800 metros libre, con medalla de plata. También se coronó Campeona en la categoría de largas distancias y segundo lugar en cortas distancias, en la Copa Mundial de Natación, organizada por la FINA y celebrada en Hong Kong, Pekín, Imperia y París.

Durante el Campeonato Mundial de Natación en piscina corta, llevado a cabo en Gotemburgo, Suecia, rompió su propio récord mundial de los 200 metros libre pasando de 1:55″42 a 1:54″17. Además, en los 400 metros libre, bajó el récord que durante 10 años estuvo en 4:02″05 a 4:00″03. La revista «Swimming World» la declaró entonces la mejor nadadora de 1997.

A inicios de 1998 ganó medalla de oro en el Campeonato Mundial en Australia, el segundo lugar en la categoría de largas distancias y el tercer lugar en las cortas distancias de la Copa Mundial de Natación FINA, celebrada en Brasil, Suiza, Italia y Francia.

Su última competición profesional fue en 2006 en los juegos de Maracaibo donde ganó oro en 200 y 400 metros libre, y una medalla de plata en 100 libre.

Claudia Poll ha instaugrado 154 records durante su carrera y fue declarada ciudadana de honor de Costa Rica en 1996.

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