Austrian triathlete freed by kidnapper after she complimented hisorchids

VIENNA: A young Austrian triathlete kidnapped while riding her bike talked her way to freedom by complimenting her captor’s orchids, a police source said Saturday, confirming press reports.

Professional triathlete Nathalie Birli, 27, was struck by a car Tuesday and broke her arm while falling to the ground near Graz in southeastern Austria, the press reports said.

The driver then knocked her out with a piece of wood and took her to his isolated home.

“When I regained consciousness, I was naked and tied up in an armchair in an old house,” Birli told the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

The man forced her to drink alcohol and tried to suffocate her and drown her in a bathtub filled with cold water, Birli said.

However, she managed to placate the man by complimenting him on the many orchids growing in his home.

Though he was initially “filled with hate,” the man suddenly became “nice to me” and confided that gardening was his passion before opening up about his troubled childhood, she said.

Finally, he agreed to let her go and even took her home, along with her bicycle, which had a GPS system installed in it.

Police used the GPS record to track down the man and arrest him at his house, they said.

The police are now trying to determine if the 33-year-old man, who suffers from psychiatric problems, was involved in any previous kidnappings.