Ageless Fischer adds to her Olympic medal haul
German canoeist Birgit Fischer arrived in Atlanta looking to add to her Olympic medal haul a full 16 years after claiming her first gold at the Games.
Fischer had been just 18 when she won her maiden Olympic title at Moscow 1980. Then she was competing in the kayak singles; now, aged 34, she was entered into three different events: the kayak singles, doubles and fours.
The first up was the fours, and she came into the event with high hopes. A German team, either unified or East, had won this event at 15 of the previous 17 world championships; however, there were now hints that chinks were appearing in their armour, as they had lost the Olympic title to Hungary four years earlier.
This time there was to be no significant challenge from the Hungarians and the German team of Fischer, Ramona Portwich, Manuela Mucke and Anett Schuck
comfortably qualified for the final. China won the semi-final, but it was actually the Swiss quartet who were to pose the greatest problems to the Germans in the early stages of the gold medal race.
By the halfway mark the Germans began to ease away, and were soon firmly in command, They stayed in front until the very end, winning by a margin of nearly two seconds to give Fischer her remarkable record – her fifth gold medal coming 16 years after her first.
She went on to take a silver in the doubles, but could finish only fourth in the singles – it was the first time she had failed to win an Olympic medal in nine competitions.
Fischer went on to win further gold medals in the doubles and the fours in Sydney in 2000 and then won a silver and a gold medal at Athens 2004. She retired from competition at the age of 42, with eight Olympic gold medals and four silvers, confirming her status as the greatest female canoeist in history.