Natascha Keller picks up prestigious sports award

[img_assist|nid=331|title=|desc=German fans show their appreciation of Natascha Keller at he 2010 World Cup (c) Tom Cooper|link=popup|align=right|width=300|height=199]German international Natascha Keller has become the second hockey player in history to receive the prestigious ‘Golden Ribbon of the Sports Press’.

The Golden Ribbon of the Sports Press is the oldest sports award in Germany, and has been presented by the German sports press annually since 1927 to individuals in German sport in recognition of their achievements. Past recipients include five time Olympic gold medallist speed skater Claudia Pechstein, three time Olympic gold medallist luge athlete Georg Hackl, iconic figure skater Katharina Witt and famous football goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

Before Keller received the award on Saturday, the only hockey winner had been Christina ‘Chinny’ Moser (now Christina Götz) in 1987. (Thanks to John Coxon for this information)

33-year-old ‘Taschi’ Keller, who started her international career at the age of 17, has since played more than 370 matches for her country, scored 179 goals, and amassed an impressive array of medals and titles: an Olympic gold medal in Athens, a bronze medal at the 1998 Utrecht World Cup, 2 Indoor World Cup gold medals in 2003 and 2011, alongside medals at European indoor and outdoor nations and club events and seven German national league titles, as well as the 1999 FIH Player of the Year award and four nominations into the FIH All Star team between 2006 and 2010.

With her Olympic title, Natascha did her part to increase her family’s fantastic collection of hockey medals and titles, which includes a unique string of Olympic medals: a 1936 Olympic silver medal won by Natascha’s grandfather Erwin Keller, a 1972 Olympic gold medal won by her father Carsten Keller, a 1992 Olympic gold medal won by older brother Andreas, and another won by younger brother Florian at the 2008 Beijing tournament.

Natscha now has her eyes firmly set on this year’s EuroHockey Nations Championships, to be held in Germany in August and which serve as a qualifier for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Should Taschi extend her career for another year after that, she would become the first German hockey player ever to have participated in five Olympic Games.

Source: FIH.ch and others