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Cato Zahl Pedersen was unfaithful:

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Cato Zahl Pedersen was unfaithful:

The effort and willpower of Cato Zahl Pedersen (65) has made an indelible impression on both viewers and participants in “Farmen kjendis”. Despite missing both arms, the former athlete contributed at least as much as the other contestants on the farm.

– I enjoyed being at “The Farm”. It was absolutely incredible, fun and enervating. I would easily do it again, Cato says smiling when he welcomes us home in the flat on Nesodden.

STO ON: On “Farmen kendis”, the athlete proved to be a hard worker who stood on from morning to night. Photo: Anton Soggiu / TV 2 Show more

Had his wife’s support

While he was away on TV filming, his wife Märtha Zahl (78) was waiting at home. Some may have been surprised that the Paralympic hero would take part in the physically demanding program, but his wife was not surprised.

– Suddenly started to cry

– Give Cato a spade and a plow, and he sees no limit. I never doubted that he would do well, says Märtha, while her husband pours coffee in the kitchen.

THE WEDDING DAY: When Cato ran the marathon in New York in 1981, he and Märtha took the opportunity to get married in the UN chapel. Photo: Private Show more

The couple know each other through thick and thin. Ever since their first meeting in 1979, they have stood by each other’s side through life’s many ups and downs. The wife has supported Cato’s sports careers, and waited at home with her heart in her throat when he fought his way through the bitter cold to the South Pole in 1994.

– Märtha’s support has meant everything to me. We give each other a lot of freedom, and I am eternally grateful that she has been so patient, says Pedersen.

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Today, Märtha is retired, while Cato still works in Olympiatoppen and with his own company. Although he is still busy, they are good at finding room for love.

– We value quality time together. Cato is very attentive, and can, for example, manage to book tickets on the Kiel ferry with the best cabin, or a long weekend together in a big city, says Märtha.

LOOKING BACK: Cato Zahl Pedersen has been through many tough times – both privately and in sport. Photo: Morten Eik / Se og Hør Show more

Admitted adultery

The couple are good at nurturing their relationship, but have also been through tough times. In 2009, they went through a crisis, when it became known that Cato had been unfaithful.

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Made competitive requirements

– We have had our battles, admits Märtha.

As many couples experience, everyday life became routine and the excitement disappeared. It resulted in a misstep that the TV profile would later regret.

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– It was an outlet for something, I was also caught red-handed… In retrospect, I am grateful for that. It could have gone either way, but it ended up strengthening cohabitation, says Cato.

About dating: – I get scared

Märtha remembers well the day she found out about the affair.

– I asked if he intended to divorce, and he replied “preferably not”. We both had a desire to continue the marriage. Then we had to find out what we were going to do – and work for it.

A GENTLEMAN: Cato looks after his wife in everyday life. A cup of coffee in the kitchen gives a small taste of everyday luxury! Photo: Morten Eik / Se og Hør Show more

For Cato, the experience was an important reminder to take care of what you have.

– I’m not proud of it, but I’m glad we got through it. It sharpened me, and made me no longer take things for granted. We have to appreciate each other, he asserts.

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Sports came first

Cato Zahl Pedersen has achieved more than most. He has a total of 13 gold medals from the Paralympic Games, he has gone to the South Pole and created a rehabilitation center in his name CatoSenteret.

– Glad to be alive

Nevertheless, he singles out those closest to him as the most important. But when he met Märtha in 1979, love and family were not at the top of the priority list.

– Sport was the most important thing in my life, and I hadn’t had a girlfriend before I met Märtha.

CELEBRATE GUESTS: At the wedding in 1981, Grete Waitz and her husband Jack were groomsmen. Arne Treholt was also among the guests. Photo: Private Show more

The first meeting took place during a training session at Beitostølen. Märtha was a student at the Sports Academy, and Cato was at a training session with the national cross-country team.

– Forced to restart

The chemistry was strong, and it didn’t take long for the two to become a couple. Cato was an ambitious 20-year-old who lived at home and bet everything on sports. Märtha was a 13-year-old divorced mother of young children who did dancing and gymnastics.

– Sport brought us together. There was an immediate chemistry, recalls Märtha.

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THE BET ON EACH OTHER: 15 years ago, Cato had a lateral leap, which he deeply regretted. The crisis brought the couple closer together, and they decided to work on the relationship. Photo: Morten Eik / Se og Hør Show more

A new everyday life

A short time later, the couple moved into a student dormitory in Kringsjå. There were big contrasts to everyday life at home with the parents.

After the dramatic accident in a high-voltage mast, which caused Cato to lose both arms at the age of 14, he had been spoiled by his mother. In his new home with Märtha, it was different – but Cato liked that his lover made demands.

TAPPER: In 1973, Cato received 17,000 volts through his body and fell ten meters from a high-voltage mast straight into a pile of rocks. Here he is in hospital. Later, his right arm also had to be partially amputated. Photo: Private Show more Photo: Private Show more

– My mother did not know what good she could do for me after the accident. Everything was so easy. At Märtha’s I had to do my own laundry, tidy up and help with the dishes. I thought “should I continue the relationship with such a demanding and expectant lady?”.

– Steal from production

– You were lazy, Märtha interjects with a laugh.

– The reality is that I need someone who challenges me, not someone who is just nice, agrees Cato.

CHILDHOOD MEMORY: Here is Cato on a ski trip – before the accident hit him. Photo: Private Show more

The polar explorer and adventurer smiles at his wife. Märtha is his first and only great love. She remembers well how Cato had to get used to life as a roommate and independent student.

– I specialized in training after injury and illness, and held courses for the Norwegian Sports Confederation of Disabled People. Then I couldn’t have a man who couldn’t take care of himself. If I were to live my life, he would have to learn to live his, Märtha asserts.

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Strong love

Two years after their first meeting, Cato proposed that they marry in New York, the day after he ran the New York Marathon, and the mother of two had to make an important decision.

– Enough of the messages

– I had to go within myself and be sure before we got married. I had been through a marriage and knew that the days of being newly in love are over. Cato would need help with certain things, even when I’m angry and pissed off. I had to know that the love was strong enough, and I decided that it was, says Märtha.

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GULLMANN: As early as 1980, Cato became a well-known face after winning three golds in what was then called the “Disability Olympics” in Geilo. There were to be another ten gold medals. Photo: Se og Hør Show more TAKING CHALLENGES: Time and again Cato Zahl Pedersen challenges himself, and accepts challenges. In 2010 he participated in “Shall we dance” with Marianne Sandaker. Photo: Morten Eik Show more

The choice to marry the disabled athlete thirteen years younger came as a surprise to several in her circle of friends, and the 78-year-old does not hide that she faced prejudice.

– Really hurt

– I cleaned up my circle of friends, so to speak, says Märtha, and Cato adds that the age difference was never an issue.

– We didn’t think about it at the time, and since then it hasn’t been important either.

UNSTOPPABLE: Cato has always been an adventurer, and has, among other things, gone to the South Pole – and climbed Mount Everest. Photo: Private Show more SPORTS FIRST: Cato chose early on to bet everything on sports. It produced results – he has won medals in both alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and athletics during the Paralympic Games. Photo: Aleksander Nordahl / NTB Show more

Dad against all odds

In 1981, they became husband and wife during a ceremony in the UN chapel. Grete Waitz (1953–2011) and her husband Jack were groomsmen, and Arne Treholt (1942–2023) was among the guests.

Six years after the wedding, the couple became parents to their daughter Erica. The pregnancy came completely unexpectedly for Cato, who had sterilized herself the year before.

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– As a top athlete, I didn’t think much about children in those days. I thought short-term, and made the stupid choice to sterilize myself, says Cato.

But there is always a margin of error in such operations, and the daughter’s arrival was a blessing.

Woke up with no hearing

– I am eternally grateful that it went the way it did.

Throughout their 45-year marriage, the couple have cheered each other on, supported each other when things were difficult, and raised a family. Together they have three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and Cato couldn’t be happier.

– I am proud to have such a wonderful family. They are the most important thing!

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