Karin Büttner-Janz

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Karin Büttner-Janz
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L0817-0318, DDR-Olympiamannschaft, Karin Janz.jpg
Büttner-Janz in 1972
Personal information
Country represented East Germany
Born (1952-02-17) 17 February 1952 (age 67)
Lübben, East Germany
Height1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)
Weight46 kg (101 lb)
DisciplineWomen's artistic gymnastics
ClubSC Dynamo Berlin

Karin Büttner-Janz (née Janz, born 17 February 1952) is a German medical doctor who won world and Olympic gold medals in artistic gymnastics for East Germany. From 1990 to 2012, she was chief physician of clinics in Berlin, Germany. 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 after a silver medal on the uneven bars and a bronze medal on the vault at the European championship in Amsterdam. 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 German athlete at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and was afterwards recognized as GDR (German Democratic Republic) 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 postdoctoral lecture qualification (habilitation treatise) through her work on the development of an artificial spine disk, known as the Charité Disc.[2] She developed the device[3] together with her colleague Kurt Schellnack. In 1990, Büttner-Janz moved from the Charité Berlin to the orthopedic clinic of Berlin-Hellersdorf, in 2004 to the Vivantes clinic of Berlin-Friedrichshain. From 2008 to 2012, she was additionally Chief Physician of the Vivantes clinic in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

In 2005, she became Extraordinary Professor at the Charité-Unviversitätsmedizin Berlin. From 2008 to 2009 she was president of the Spine Arthroplasty Society (later renamed to International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery). In 2012, Büttner-Janz filed a lawsuit against her former employer, the hospital provider Vivantes. Büttner-Janz claimed that she was dismissed without notice from her position as head physician because of her openly gay relationship. The hospital instead argued that it was no longer possible to collaborate with her because of an aggressive and accusing mail to the Vivantes supervisory board send by her. Eventually, the lawsuit was settled and she was granted a payment of €590.000.[4] From 2014 to 2016, she studied at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin und became Master of Business Administration (MBA) in general management.



Büttner-Janz in Leipzig, 2017


  • 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]
  • 2011 – Order of the State Berlin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Founder". Büttner-Janz Spinefoundation. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Karin Janz". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Charité Artificial Spine Disc Replacement". Archived from the original on 11 January 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ "Karin Büttner-Janz: Hohe Abfindung für lesbische Olympiasiegerin" (queer.de) (in German). 5 September 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  5. ^ Panorama of the 1972 Sports Year (in Russian). Moscow: Fizkultura i sport. 1973. pp. 122–124.
  6. ^ "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