Karin Büttner-Janz

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Karin Büttner-Janz
— Gymnast —
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L0817-0318, DDR-Olympiamannschaft, Karin Janz.jpg
Karin Büttner-Janz in 1972
Personal information
Country represented  Germany
Former countries represented  East Germany
Born (1952-02-17) 17 February 1952 (age 62)
Lübben, East Germany
Height 1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)
Weight 46 kg (101 lb)
Discipline Women's artistic gymnastics
Club SC Dynamo Berlin
Retired 1972

Karin Büttner-Janz (born 17 February 1952) is a medical doctor, Olympic medal winner in artistic gymnastics and, since March 1990, chief physician of the orthopedic Vivantes hospital in Friedrichshain and dismissed in 2012. Also she has a foundation named Spinefoundation.[1]

Gymnastics career[edit]

Her first coach was her father Guido Janz, who taught her excellent basics. Büttner-Janz moved to a sports school in Forst, where she trained under Klaus Helbeck. Her final coach was Jürgen Heritz.

In 1967, at the age of 15, Büttner-Janz was nominated as East German Athlete of the Year despite not yet having had any international success. She went on to win the silver medal on the uneven bars and a bronze medal as part of the country's gymnastics team at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

At the 1970 world championships she overcame Ludmilla Tourischeva on the uneven bars to win the gold medal. In a controversial finish, she delivered another gold medal winning performance on the uneven bars at the 1972 Munich Olympics, defeating Olga Korbut on her favourite apparatus. She also won the gold medal on the vault, a silver medal as part of the East German women's gymnastic team, another prestigious silver medal in the all around competition, with Ludmilla Tourischeva of the Soviet Union winning the gold and Tamara Lazakovich of the Soviet Union winning the bronze, and bronze on the balance beam. She was the most successful sports woman of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) at the 1972 Summer Olympics and was recognized there as Sportswoman of the Year in 1972. After these successes she announced her intention of ending her competitive career to turn to the study of medicine to become a physician.[2]

Büttner-Janz has an uneven bars element named after her, the Janz Salto, which she first performed in competition at the SV Dynamo Spartakiade in East Berlin, 1971.

Academic physician[edit]

Karin Büttner-Janz (left) and Kurt Schellnack (center) developed the artificial spine disk Charité Disc in the 1980s

Büttner-Janz studied at the Humboldt University in East Berlin beginning in 1971 and earned her diploma in emergency medicine. Later, she conducted her clinical semester at the orthopedic hospital of the Charité and went on to specialize in orthopaedics. She obtained her doctorate and habilitation through her work on the development of an artificial spine disk, known as the Charité Disc.[2] She is co-owner of a patent on the device[3] with her colleague Kurt Schellnack. Subsequently, Büttner-Janz moved to the clinic of Hellersdorf.

Personal life[edit]

In 2012 she was dismissed as the Chief Physician from two Berlin clinics. She was later awarded a compensation of 590,000 Euros by a court. During the trial she publicly came out as LGTB, claiming she was fired in part for having a relationship with the company's Deputy Chief Executive. Other leading surgeons accused her of using the relationship to protect her own interests.[4][5]


  • 1967 – European silver medal on the asymmetric bars, bronze medal on vault.
  • 1968 – silver medal at the Olympics on the asymmetric bars, bronze medal in the team competition.
  • 1969 – four time European champion (all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam), vice-champion in floor exercise.
  • 1970 – world champion on the asymmetric bars, silver medal on vault and in the team competition.
  • 1972 – Olympic champion on vault and the asymmetric bars, silver medal in the all-around and in the team competition, bronze medal on the balance beam.
  • 1972 – awarded the title of Merited Master of Sport of the USSR.[6]
  • 1984 – first OI, where their invention, Charite artificial spine disk was used.
  • 1987 – honorary member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine; consolation prize of the Olympic Committee “in appreciation of her outstanding sports and academic career”.[citation needed]
  • 2000 – nominated as "Gymnast of the Century".[citation needed]
  • 2003 – inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Founder". Büttner-Janz Spinefoundation. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Karin Janz". SR/Olympic sports. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Charité Artificial Spine Disc Replacement at the Wayback Machine (archived January 11, 2009)
  4. ^ "Olympiasiegerin erhält 590.000 Euro Abfindung" [Olympic champion receives 590,000 euro compensation]. Die Welt (in German). 9 April 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Reich, Anja; Treichel, Thorkit (21 June 2013). "Karin Büttner-Janz: Die Kämpferin" [Karin Büttner-Janz: The fighter]. Berliner Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Panorama of the 1972 Sports Year (in Russian). Moscow: Fizkultura i sport. 1973. pp. 122–124. 
  7. ^ "Karin Janz". Inductees. International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
East Germany Gabriele Seyfert
East German Sportswoman of the Year
Succeeded by
East Germany Margitta Gummel
Preceded by
East Germany Karin Balzer
East German Sportswoman of the Year
Succeeded by
East Germany Kornelia Ender