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Claudia Heill (2010)
|Born||24 January 1982|
|Died||31 March 2011
In addition to her success at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Heill won silver medals at the European championship in 2001 and 2005 and bronze medals in 2002, 2003 and 2007. She placed fifth at the 2008 Summer Olympics and retired one year later. After retiring from competition she began coaching junior judoka. On 31 March 2011, she died by falling out of a sixth story window in Vienna. It is not known whether it was an accident or suicide.
Heill showed early signs of that determination when in 1998 aged just 16 she announced her arrival by winning the -63 kg category at the Senior Austrian National Championships. Later that same year Heill won silver at the Junior World Championships (Cali) where she lost to the Japanese Maeda Keiko. Within a month Heill again tasted success, taking the gold medal at the Junior European Championships (Bucharest). Heill’s position as a world-class judoka in the -63 kg category was developing quickly. In 2000, at the Junior World Championships (Nabul) she won bronze and at the Junior European Championships (Nicosia) she won silver. By 2001, Heill began concentrating on her senior career and she took a silver medal in the European Championships (Paris) and placed fifth at the World Championships (Munich).
Heill spent the next seven years competing on the international stage. She was one of four celebrated Austrians (Sabrina Filzmoser, Ludwig Paischer and Andreas Mitterfellner making up the quartet) to take gold medals at the World Military Championships in 2006 helping her country to huge success in topping the medal table. Her finest hour was undoubtedly her silver medal winning performance at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. “This had been her dream even as she began practicing her first judo attacks as a seven-year-old,” said her longtime coach Hubert Rohrauer. She retired after placing fifth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Heill was part of the organizing committee at the European Championships in Vienna in 2010. She was generally considered to be welcoming, professional and proved a perfect choice to market Austria’s staging of Europe’s premier event. Shortly before her death, Heill was a commentator on JudoTV at the Judo World Cup in Oberwart. The role of TV presenter was one to which she was well suited given her knowledge, experience, and completely relaxed nature around the sport that she had spent most of her life enjoying. Her former teammate Ludwig Paischer was stunned by her tragic death, saying, "She was such a fun-loving, friendly person."
- "Claudia Heill Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
- "Former Olympic Judo Silver Medalist Commits Suicide in Austria". Fox News. Associated Press. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- Maria Jelenko (1 April 2011). "Judo-Star: "Es war ein Unfall"". œ24.at (in German).
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