At the top for two decades in a row
Eastern promiseKathrin Boron was born in the former East German town of Eisenhüttenstatd, on the border with Poland. At the age of eight, she started competing in athletics, and went on to continue his education in a sports school. In 1983, she joined the famous Potsdam rowing club where she progressed under the guidance of coach, Jutta Lau. Three years later, in Roudnice (CZE), she claimed her first international title, as a member of the East German crew that won the quadruple skulls at the 1986 World Rowing Junior Championships, and a year later claimed a second world junior title in the single sculls in Cologne.
From adversity to triumphSelected to represent the German Democratic Republic at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Boron injured her right ankle and had to withdraw. Once she recovered she swiftly put the setback behind her to win successive golds in the quadruple sculls at the World Rowing Championships in 1989 and 1990, while in 1991 she topped the podium again, this time with a victory in the double sculls with Beate Schramm. By this point she was competing in the colours of a unified Germany. It was in the double sculls – this time with Kerstin Koeppen – that she tasted Olympic success for the first time, at Barcelona 1992, competing in the same boat in which she had secured her 1991 world title.
Gold again in 1996 and 2000 On 27 July 1996 in Atlanta, Boron won another Olympic gold in the quadruple skulls, with Kerstin Koeppen, Katrin Rutschow, and Jana Rau-Sorgers. And four years later in Penrith, the venue for the rowing events at Sydney 2000, she won her third Olympic gold, this time in the double sculls with Jana Thieme.
A new dimensionBolstered by her three Olympic titles, Boron saw her life change in 2002. As she tells it: “On 5 August, my daughter Cora was born and my life took on a new dimension. In January 2003, feeling a new impetus and sense of motivation, I launched operation ‘Athens 2004’. You know what happened next!”. At the Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre on 22 August 2004, Boron claimed yet another gold in the quadruple sculls along side Meike Evers, Manuela Lutze and Kerstin Kowalski. But she wasn’t finished yet. She still had one more Olympic Games in her, and one more medal. At Beijing 2008, she was a member of the German crew that took bronze in the quadruple sculls, after which she finally confirmed her intention to retire.
Source of inspirationDuring 20 years competing at the highest level, Boron amassed a total of five Olympic and 13 world championship medals, making her one of the most successful female rowers in history and a wonderful source of inspiration for the many younger team-mates with whom she shared a boat over the years. In 2009, the international rowing federation, FISA, awarded her its highest honour, the Thomas Keller Medal.