BERLIN, December 9. FRANZISKA Van Almsick, world record-holder in the 200 meter freestyle, has withdrawn from the European Short Course Championships due to a severe sinus problem, according to a story in today's issue of the German newspaper, Das Bild. The meet will take place in Dublin, Ireland, beginning Thursday.
"I was really looking forward to the European Championships," Franzi told the daily newspaper. "It was an important stage in preparation for the Olympics. But it is simply not possible."
Van Almsick, 25, Germany's most popular athlete has swum in three Olympic Games and has issued conflicting statements as to whether or not she plans to retire after the 2004 Games in Athens next August. She set the world record at the 1994 World championships in Rome then waited eight years before lowering it at the 2003 European Championships in Berlin where, in a remarkable comeback, she won five gold medals. Van Almsick, has set her sights on winning her first Olympic gold medal in Athens.