The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Germany

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This page contains a list of the greatest German Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,055 Athletes, 233 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 73.47, 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 giving technical advice to his competitor, 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 67.08, 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 65.62, Fritz Hofmann is the 3rd most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 25 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 Friedrich Traun

4. Friedrich Traun (1876 - 1908)

With an HPI of 64.03, Friedrich Traun is the 4th most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Friedrich Adolf "Fritz" Traun (29 March 1876 – 11 July 1908) was a German athlete and tennis player. Born into a wealthy family, he participated in the 1896 Summer Olympics and won a gold medal in men's doubles. He committed suicide after being accused of fathering a child out of wedlock.

Photo of Armin Hary

5. Armin Hary (1937 - )

With an HPI of 63.97, Armin Hary is the 5th most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 22 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-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 Karin Balzer

6. Karin Balzer (1938 - 2019)

With an HPI of 63.24, Karin Balzer is the 6th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Karin Balzer (née Richert; 5 June 1938 – 17 December 2019) was an East German hurdler who competed in the 80 m hurdles event at the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Olympics, and in the 100 m hurdles in 1972. She won a gold medal in 1964 and a bronze in 1972, while finishing fifth in 1968. During her career she set 37 world's best performances.

Photo of Jürgen Schult

7. Jürgen Schult (1960 - )

With an HPI of 62.98, Jürgen Schult is the 7th most famous German Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 28 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 Gisela Mauermayer

8. Gisela Mauermayer (1913 - 1995)

With an HPI of 62.70, Gisela Mauermayer is the 8th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Gisela Mauermayer (24 November 1913 in Munich – 9 January 1995 in Munich) was a German athlete who competed mainly in the discus. She won the gold medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, Germany.

Photo of Lina Radke

9. Lina Radke (1903 - 1983)

With an HPI of 62.44, Lina Radke is the 9th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 19 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 Heike Drechsler

10. Heike Drechsler (1964 - )

With an HPI of 62.40, Heike Drechsler is the 10th most famous German Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 30 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.

Pantheon has 233 people classified as athletes born between 1871 and 1997. Of these 233, 208 (89.27%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Marita Koch, Armin Hary, and Jürgen Schult. The most famous deceased athletes include Luz Long, Fritz Hofmann, and Friedrich Traun. As of October 2020, 71 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Willi Holdorf, Rudolf Harbig, and Arthur Jonath.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2020)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 21 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.