Birgit Fischer’s achievements in kayaking makes her one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all time.
A lifetime of achievement
By the time she graduated from her army sports boarding school, Fischer was already the youngest champion in the history of Olympic kayaking. She had won gold in the K1 500m at the 1980 Moscow Games aged just 20, setting the tone for her incredible career.
Fischer dominated the sport with an amazing run of victories. She won the World Championship in 1981, 1982 and 1983, only missing out at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games due to East Germany’s boycott.
Six Olympic golds
Despite being beaten in the singles final in Seoul in 1998, she won gold in the pairs hours later, and took gold in the fours the next day. She continued with singles gold and fours silver in Barcelona in 1992, then fours gold and pairs silver in Atlanta in 1996. In 2000, in Sydney, Fischer won yet another two golds in the fours and pairs.
In Athens in 2004, Birgit came out of retirement for one last performance. Aged 42, she won the gold in the fours (K-4 500m) and silver in the double (K-2 500m). With 12, she is kayaking’s leading medal winner, and only Larissa Latynina (in artistic gymnastics) has won more Olympic medals. Fischer is also the only woman to win Olympic medals 20 years apart.