Wolfgang Schmidt

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Wolfgang Schmidt
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-T0601-013, IAAF-Worldcup, Wolfgang Schmidt im Wettkampf.jpg
Wolfgang Schmidt at the 1977 IAAF World Cup Final in Düsseldorf
Personal information
Nationality German
Born (1954-01-16) 16 January 1954 (age 64)
East Berlin, East Germany
Height 1.99 m (6 ft 6 in)
Weight 115 kg (254 lb)
Country East Germany (1974-1987)
West Germany (1988-1990)
Germany (1991-1992)
Sport Men's Athletics
Event(s) Men's Discus
Club SC Dynamo Berlin
Stuttgarter Kickers
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 71.16 m (1978)

Wolfgang Schmidt (born 16 January 1954) is a former German track and field athlete, who competed for East Germany at the 1976 Summer Olympics and won the silver medal in the discus throw. A former world record holder, he also won several medals at the European Championships in Athletics. Schmidt made headlines in 1982 due to his failed attempt to escape from East Germany. He later competed for the Federal Republic of Germany and won third place in the 1990 European Championships in Athletics. Born in Berlin, he competed for the SC Dynamo Berlin / Sportvereinigung (SV) Dynamo.

Athletic achievements[edit]

Wolfgang Schmidt at a 1978 competition

His personal best throw was 71.16 metres, achieved in August 1978 in Berlin. This ranks him third among German discus throwers, only behind Jürgen Schult and Lars Riedel.[1]

Flight from East Germany[edit]

After a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 1980 Olympics and missing the 1981 World Cup in Rome due to a second-place finish in the East German Championships, Wolfgang Schmidt decided to pursue athletic success in the West. He was constantly under surveillance by the Volkspolizei and they uncovered a plan for his escape (aided by discus colleagues Ricky Bruch and Alwin Wagner). In the autumn of 1982, Schmidt was condemned to one and a half years prison.[2] However, one year later it was adjusted and he was ordered to become a coach with SC Dynamo Adlershof, a sports team of the Felix Dzerzhinsky Watch Regiment. Wolfgang Schmidt filed a departure request so that he could continue his athletic career in the West. At the end of 1987, he was allowed to move to West Germany, though it was already too late to be considered for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. After the first track competition between East and West Germany, Jürgen Schult, having won the discus throw, refused to shake hands with Schmidt.

Life after political turmoil[edit]

In 1992 Schmidt unseated Jürgen Schult as the German champion in the discus throw. He competed in the qualification meets for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, but was not considered for the German Olympic team (rival Jürgen Schult was chosen and went on to win the silver medal). Schmidt later moved to San Francisco and became a stockbroker and management consultant.

In East Germany, Schmidt competed for SV Dynamo and trained with Joachim Spenke. He later competed for LG VfB Stuttgart and Stuttgarter Kickers. While competing, he was 1.99 meters tall and weighed 115 kg.


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2007. 
  2. ^ Wallechinsky, David (2012). The Book of Olympic Lists. London: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 232. ISBN 9781845137731. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
United States Mac Wilkins
Men's Discus World Record Holder
9 August 1978 – 29 May 1983
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Yuriy Dumchev
Preceded by
Sweden Ricky Bruch
Men's Discus European Record Holder
21 May 1976 – 29 May 1983
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Yuriy Dumchev