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The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Germany

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This page contains a list of the greatest German Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,059 Athletes, 341 of which were born in Germany. This makes Germany the birth place of the 2nd most number of Athletes.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary German Athletes of all time. This list of famous German Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of German Athletes.

Photo of Luz Long

1. Luz Long (1913 - 1943)

With an HPI of 62.24, Luz Long is the most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages on wikipedia.

Carl Ludwig "Luz" Long (27 April 1913 – 14 July 1943) was a German Olympic long jumper, notable for winning the silver medal in the event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and for his association with Jesse Owens, who went on to win the gold medal for the long jump. Luz Long won the German long jump championship six times in 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939. Long was killed while serving in the German Army during World War II.

Photo of Marita Koch

2. Marita Koch (1957 - )

With an HPI of 58.05, Marita Koch is the 2nd most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Marita Koch (later Meier-Koch; born 18 February 1957) is a German former sprint track and field athlete. During her career she collected 16 world records in outdoor sprints as well as 14 world records in indoor events. Her record of 47.60 in the 400 metres, set on 6 October 1985, still stands.

Photo of Fritz Hofmann

3. Fritz Hofmann (1871 - 1927)

With an HPI of 53.42, Fritz Hofmann is the 3rd most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Fritz Hofmann (born 19 June 1871 in Berlin, German Empire; died 14 July 1927 in Berlin, Weimar Republic) was a German athlete. He competed at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Photo of Rosemarie Ackermann

4. Rosemarie Ackermann (1952 - )

With an HPI of 52.56, Rosemarie Ackermann is the 4th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Rosemarie "Rosi" Ackermann (née Witschas; born 4 April 1952) is a German former high jumper. On 26 August 1977 in Berlin, she became the first female high jumper to clear a height of 2 metres.

Photo of Armin Hary

5. Armin Hary (1937 - )

With an HPI of 52.45, Armin Hary is the 5th most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Armin Hary (German pronunciation: [ˈaʁmiːn ˈhaːʁi], audio ; born 22 March 1937) is a retired German sprinter who won the 1960 Olympic 100 meters dash. He was the first non-North American to win the event since Percy Williams of Canada took the gold medal in 1928, the first man to run 100 meters in 10.0 seconds and the last white man to establish a world record in 100 meters dash.

Photo of Lina Radke

6. Lina Radke (1903 - 1983)

With an HPI of 52.18, Lina Radke is the 6th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Karoline "Lina" Radke-Batschauer (18 October 1903 – 14 February 1983) was a German track and field athlete. She was the first Olympic champion in the 800 m for women. Born as Lina Batschauer, she started competing in athletics at the age of 20. In those years sports such as running were considered far too exhausting for women. This vision was shared by many, including the originator of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertin. In 1927, she married Georg Radke, who was her coach and a manager of her club SC Baden-Baden. The couple moved to Georg's hometown of Breslau (now Wrocław in Poland), where in 1927 Lina Radke set her first 800 m world record. Together with her husband, Lina Radke was one of the pioneers of female athletics in the mid-1920s. Competitions for women were not held frequently, but Radke nevertheless won several regional and national titles. She first specialised in the 1000 m, but when this was changed into the 800 m (because that distance would be held at the upcoming 1928 Summer Olympics), she switched to that event. The highlight of Radke's career were those 1928 Summer Olympics, as she won the inaugural title in the 800 m, earning the first German gold medal in athletics. Along the way, she set the first officially recognised world record in that event, 2:16.8, which would last until 1944. The IOC was however not pleased with the fact that several of Radke's competitors had been totally exhausted after the race, and decided to banish the event from the Games; it would not be included again until 1960. In 1930 Radke set a 1,000 m world record. She retired in 1934, after finishing fourth in the 800 m at the last Women's World Games. After that she worked as athletics coach in Breslau and Torgau. Her husband took part in World War II and was held as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union. Upon his release in 1950, the family moved to Karlsruhe.

Photo of Jürgen Schult

7. Jürgen Schult (1960 - )

With an HPI of 51.77, Jürgen Schult is the 7th most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Jürgen Schult (German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡn̩ ˈʃʊlt], audio ; born 11 May 1960) is a German former track and field athlete and, as of September 2021, the world record holder in the discus. Dating from 1986, this is the longest-standing record in men's track and field. Schult represented East Germany in the 1988 Olympic discus competition, where he won the gold medal.

Photo of Heike Drechsler

8. Heike Drechsler (1964 - )

With an HPI of 51.64, Heike Drechsler is the 8th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Heike Gabriela Drechsler (German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪkə ˈdʁɛkslɐ] (listen); née Daute; born 16 December 1964) is a German former track and field athlete who represented East Germany and later Germany. One of the most successful long jumpers of all-time, she is a former world record holder and ranks third on the all-time list with her legal best of 7.48 metres in 1988. Her marginally wind-assisted jump of 7.63 metres (+2.1) in 1992 at altitude in Sestriere, is still the furthest a woman has ever long jumped. She is the only woman who has won two Olympic gold medals in the long jump, winning in 1992 and 2000. Drechsler also won Olympic medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres in 1988, a silver medal in the 100 metres at the 1987 World Championships, and is a former world record holder in the 200 metres with 21.71 secs in 1986.

Photo of Waldemar Cierpinski

9. Waldemar Cierpinski (1950 - )

With an HPI of 51.56, Waldemar Cierpinski is the 9th most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Waldemar Cierpinski (born 3 August 1950) is a former East German athlete and two time Olympic Champion in the marathon. He lives in Halle an der Saale.

Photo of Tilly Fleischer

10. Tilly Fleischer (1911 - 2005)

With an HPI of 51.26, Tilly Fleischer is the 10th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Ottilie "Tilly" Fleischer (2 October 1911 – 14 July 2005) was a German athlete who competed in a variety of track and field athletic events. She competed for Germany in the 1932 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles in three different events, taking the bronze medal in the javelin. Four years later in her home country at the 1936 Games she won the gold medal in the javelin in front of the Berlin crowds. The reaction of Olympic officials to the congratulations given to her by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was put forward as the reason why Hitler never congratulated American athlete Jesse Owens after his first gold medal victory. Rumours appeared in 1966 as to who was the father of one of her daughters, after her daughter Giselle claimed in a book to be the daughter of Adolf Hitler.

Pantheon has 341 people classified as athletes born between 1871 and 1998. Of these 341, 289 (84.75%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Marita Koch, Rosemarie Ackermann, and Armin Hary. The most famous deceased athletes include Luz Long, Fritz Hofmann, and Lina Radke. As of April 2022, 108 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Christa Stubnick, Erich Borchmeyer, and Karl-Friedrich Haas.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2022)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.