Jürgen Gröbler

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Jürgen Heinz Lothar Gröbler OBE[1] (born 31 July 1946, Magdeburg) is a German rowing coach, formerly the Olympic team coach of East Germany and later of Great Britain. He coached crews to medals at every Olympics from 1972 to 2016, with the exception of the 1984 Games, which were boycotted by Eastern Bloc countries.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

Having studied sports science at Leipzig University, he returned to his local rowing club in Magdeburg and first attracted attention by coaching Wolfgang Güldenpfennig to the bronze medal in the 1972 Olympics. He then moved on to coach both the quadruple scull and coxless pairs who won gold at the 1976 Summer Olympics.[3] The coxless pair of Bernd and Jörg Landvoigt also went on to triumph at the 1980 Summer Olympics under Gröbler's guidance. From 1980 to 1990 he was chief coach of the East German women's rowing team.[4]

When Germany was reunited and the East German national sports administration collapsed in 1991, Gröbler moved to Britain where he was employed by Leander Club and the Amateur Rowing Association.[2] Controversy surrounded the appointment, given the suspicions that drug use had been rife in East German sports and that any senior coach would have been involved or had knowledge of the drugs programme. In an interview in 1998 he admitted that he had "difficulties" with the thought that drug taking may have caused medical problems for rowers, and that he had given "snippets" of information to the Stasi, the East German security organisation.[5] Steve Redgrave defended him, blaming the East German system for the drug use, rather than Gröbler personally, in keeping with Gröbler's own statement that "I have to live with what went on in East Germany. I was born in the wrong place. It was not possible to walk away."

For Great Britain he achieved Olympic golds with:

In August 2000, the month prior to coaching the coxless four to gold in Sydney, he took part in a 3-part BBC documentary entitled Gold Fever. This followed him and the crew in the years leading up to the Olympics, showing the hard work and tough decisions he faced in the quest for gold.

In 2000 he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award, and in March 2006 he was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell for his contribution to British sport.[6]

In August 2020, it was announced that Grobler was retiring as Chief Coach for British Rowing with immediate effect,[7][8] then in September 2021 it was announced that he was joining the French Rowing Federation as Executive High Performance Consultant.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Grobler lives in Henley-on-Thames with his wife Angela. They have a son, Chris.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Longmore, Andrew (7 May 2006). "Rowing: Honour rewards coach Grobler". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b Calvin, Michael (28 July 2012). "The Last Word: Coach with a dark past has lit up rowing". The Independent. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  3. ^ Nichols, Peter (24 September 2000). "Grobler's reward". The Observer. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  4. ^ Pinsent, Matthew (2 September 2004). A Lifetime In A Race. Ebury Publishing. p. 49. ISBN 978-0091901493.
  5. ^ "Top rowing coach 'used drugs'". BBC. 20 February 1998. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Jurgen Grobler receives honoray OBE from Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell". UK Government Web Archive. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Jürgen Grobler steps down as Chief Coach of the GB Rowing Team". British Rowing. 21 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Jurgen Grobler: British Rowing head coach steps down before rearranged Olympics". BBC News. 21 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  9. ^ "La FFA s'attache les services de Jürgen Grobler - FFA". www.ffaviron.fr. 29 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Jurgen Grobler: I want some new heroes to inspire a generation". Evening Standard. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2016.