Michael Gross (swimmer)

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Michael Gross
Personal information
Nickname(s) The Albatross
Nationality  Germany
Born (1964-06-17) 17 June 1964 (age 50)
Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany
Height 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in)
Weight 88 kg (194 lb)
Sport
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Butterfly, freestyle
Club EOSC Offenbach

Michael Gross (born 17 June 1964), spelled Michael Groß in German, is a former swimmer from Germany. He is 201 centimetres (6 ft 7 in) tall, and received the nickname "The Albatross" due to his especially long arms that gave him a total span of 2.13 meters. Gross, competing for West Germany, won three Olympic gold medals, two in 1984 and one in 1988 in the freestyle and butterfly events, in addition to two World Championship titles in 1982, two in 1986 and one in 1991.

Career[edit]

Gross was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He was probably the finest swimmer in the world in the 200-meter butterfly race from 1981 to 1988. In this period he set four world records, won two world titles, four European titles and one Olympic gold medal.

The sole exception occurred in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, when Gross was one of the great athletes of the games. Gross easily won gold in the 200-meter freestyle, dominating the field. In the 100-meter butterfly, Gross pulled off a bit of an upset, winning over the favorite in the event, American Pablo Morales. However, in the 200-meter butterfly, Gross himself was upset by a relative unknown, Australian Jon Sieben. The men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay race became one of the marquee events of the games, with Gross leading the German relay against the underdog American squad. Despite the fact that Gross swam the fastest relay leg in the event's history, the American team pulled off the upset, earning the title of the "Grossbusters."

Gross won a total of thirteen medals at the World Championships (including five gold), fifteen gold medals at the European Championships and was elected German "Athlete of the Year" four times (1982, 1983, 1984 and 1988). He retired from professional swimming in 1991.

He is featured in Bud Greenspan's 16 Days of Glory, the documentary film of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

1976 gold medal winning swimmer John Naber remarked to Sports Illustrated in 1984 that if Michael Gross were an American, he would have won six or seven medals, and that Gross was better than Mark Spitz.

He was named Male World Swimmer of the Year in 1985 by Swimming World magazine and admitted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1995.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
United States Pablo Morales
Men's 100 metre butterfly
world record holder (long course)

30 July 1984 – 23 June 1986
Succeeded by
United States Pablo Morales
Preceded by
United States Craig Beardsley
Men's 200 metre butterfly
world record holder (long course)

26 August 1983 – 3 August 1984
Succeeded by
Australia Jon Sieben
Preceded by
Australia Jon Sieben
Men's 200 metre butterfly
world record holder (long course)

29 June 1985 – 12 January 1991
Succeeded by
United States Melvin Stewart
Preceded by
United States Rowdy Gaines
Men's 200 metre Freestyle
World Record Holder (Long Course)

21 June 1983 – 19 September 1988
Succeeded by
Australia Duncan Armstrong
Awards
Preceded by
Germany Toni Mang
German Sportsman of the Year
1982 – 1984
Succeeded by
Germany Boris Becker
Preceded by
Germany Harald Schmid
German Sportsman of the Year
1988
Succeeded by
Germany Boris Becker
Preceded by
Canada Alex Baumann
World Swimmer of the Year
1985
Succeeded by
United States Matt Biondi
Preceded by
Hungary Sándor Wladár
European Swimmer of the Year
1982 – 1986
Succeeded by
Hungary Tamás Darnyi