Olympic Medals
Games Participations4
First Olympic GamesRome 1960
Year of Birth1938


Karin Richert married her coach, the former pole vaulter Karl-Heinz Balzer (1921-2007), in 1961 and they became the parents of Andreas and Falk Balzer. In 1958, prior to their wedding, the pair fled to West Germany but, after repeated visits by the Staatssicherheit (Stasi - State Security), had to return a few weeks later and they were both suspended for one year. However, the highly respected Karin was elected the 1971 East German female athlete of the year and became the most successful female hurdler in her country. In 1960 (as Richert) and from 1964 (as Balzer) she started for the combined German team at the OIympics, and in 1968 and 1972 for the East German team, for which she was the first flag bearer at the 1968 Opening Ceremony. In 1972 her oldest son Andreas was killed in a traffic accident just one day before her 100 m hurdles final, but nevertheless, she won the bronze medal.

Richert-Balzer later worked as a coach with her husband. After their refusal to participate in doping of their athletes, they were suspended in 1976 and could no longer find work as coaches. After the political changes and the fall of the Berlin Wall they made headlines when they attacked former East German sports officials, and in 1997, Karin again was able to work as a trainer.

In her active career Richert-Balzer set several world records in all female hurdle distances indoor and outdoor as well as in the 4×100 m relay. She was the only athlete to hold world records in both the 80 metre and 100 metre hurdles. Beside her Olympic medals she also won a silver at the European Championships in the 80 m hurdles in 1962, a gold in the same event in 1966 and 1969, and in the 100 hurdles in 1971 and a silver in the 4×100 m relay. During her career she set 37 world's best performances.

Personal Bests: 80H – 10.61 (1968); 100H – 12.6 (1971).

Olympic Results

Athlete Olympic Results Content

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