Gisela Köhler belonged to the world's best performers in the 1950s and 60s in the 80 m hurdles and as a sprinter. Beside her silver and bronze medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games she won 40 national titles between 1951 and 1964, and also won 6 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze at the International UIE Sport Weeks (forerunner of the World Championships) and a bronze at the 1958 European Championships. Her nine world records were as follows: 80 metres hurdles – 1959, 1960 (3); as part of the 4×100 relay three times in 1956, 4×110 yards in 1956, 4×200 metres in 1956 and 1958. She was the first German hurdles sprinter under 11 seconds over 80 m in 1955.
In 1959 she was elected Sportswomen of the year in East Germany. In 1957 she married Heinz Birkemeyer and began competing under his name in 1960. Köhler-Birkemeyer later worked as a coach. Heinz became one of the most powerful sport officials in the former GDR. He was Division Athletics Director in Thuringia (1950-51), Chairman of the National Technical Committee of the section Athletics (1951-52), Sport Master of East Germans Track & Field Association DVfL (1953-54), Deputy Chairman of the DVfL (1954-58), Women's Sport Master of DVfL (1958-66), Chairman of the Commission of Women's Sport of DVfL (1966-67), Chairman of the Commission Statistics / Classification / Tradition of DVFL (1967-73). Together with Ernst Elert he was the first editor of the journal "The Athlete", organizer of the Thuringia track and field sports and sprint coach at Jena and Berlin, a member of the DVfL Bureau, member of the IAAF Women's Commission 1960-72; and presidium member of the European Athletics Track & Field Association (ELLV). He published 1958 "Hurdles for Women", a series of six illustrated books of the world's best six hurdle runners.
Personal Bests: 100 – 11.5 (1956); 200 – 23.7 (1960); 80H – 10.5 (1960).
Athlete Olympic Results Content