Ulrike Meyfarth

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Ulrike Meyfarth
Ulrike Meyfarth.JPG
Ulrike Meyfarth in 2012.
Medal record
Women's Athletics
Competitor for  West Germany
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1972 Munich High Jump
Gold medal – first place 1984 Los Angeles High Jump
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 1983 Helsinki High Jump

Ulrike Nasse-Meyfarth (born 4 May 1956) is a German former high jumper. She won the Olympic title twice, in 1972 and 1984. She is the youngest Olympic champion ever in women's high jump, and at the time of her 1984 triumph, she was also the oldest ever.


The athletic career of Meyfarth, who was born in Frankfurt, took off quickly. In 1971, when she was only fifteen, she already placed second at the West German Championships, and the following year she qualified as the third member of the West German team for the 1972 Summer Olympics that were held in Munich.

Meyfarth was one of the few jumpers who had already adopted the new high jumping style first displayed by Dick Fosbury at the Mexico Olympics four years earlier. Nevertheless, not much was expected from Meyfarth, who had a 1.85-meter personal best. But in front of the patriotic home crowd, she rose to the occasion and improved her best by 5 cm to reach 1.90 meters – enough to secure the gold medal. She added another 2 cm to equal the standing world record and became the youngest Olympic champion in athletics in an individual event, at only 16 years old.

Her career stagnated after this surprising victory, and she didn't improve on her 1.92-meter mark until 1978. She did not win any titles in the meantime, placing 7th and 5th at the 1974 and 1978 European Championships, and not reaching the final of the high jump competition at the 1976 Montreal Games. Because of the West German boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, she did not compete there.

1982 was Meyfarth's comeback year. She won the European championships indoor and outdoor, and set a new world record of 2.02 m at the latter occasion. In 1983, she finished second at the first World Championships, after a close fight with Tamara Bykova, whom she had beaten at the European Championships the year before. At a competition in London, both Bykova and Meyfarth cleared 2.03 m, again a new world record. Bykova added another centimetre to this mark just four days later.

The 1984 Summer Olympics event in Los Angeles was Ulrike Meyfarth's last major championship. Several of her toughest competitors, including Bykova, were absent because most of the East Bloc nations boycotted the Olympics. She defeated the reigning Olympic champion – Italy's Sara Simeoni – and cleared 2.02 meters to win her second Olympic title. This time, Meyfarth was the oldest woman to win the Olympic high jump title.

She started her career in the club LG Rhein-Ville, for whom she became West German national silver medalist in 1971 and bronze medalist in 1972, behind Ellen Mundinger and Renate Gärtner. She then moved to ASV Köln, and became West German champion in 1973, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983. She also took another bronze in 1976 and silvers in 1978 and 1984.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1983 she posed naked as model for "The Highjumper", a bronze sculpture by Arno Breker. In 1987 she married Roland Nasse, a lawyer from Cologne. With him and their two daughters,[2] she lives in Odenthal,[3] a town in north of Cologne.


External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Germany Irene Epple
West German Sportswoman of the Year
1981 – 1984
Succeeded by
Germany Cornelia Hanisch
Preceded by
Austria Ilona Gusenbauer
Women's High Jump World Record Holder
4 September 1972 – 24 September 1972
Succeeded by
Bulgaria Yordanka Blagoeva
Preceded by
Italy Sara Simeoni
Women's High Jump World Record Holder
8 September 1982 – 25 August 1983
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Tamara Bykova
Sporting positions
Preceded by
United States Pam Spencer
Women's High Jump Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Tamara Bykova