The 2012 London Olympics will represent two significant anniversaries for the German Olympic team, both of which will resonate deeply within the country and with its athletes.
These Olympics mark the 20-year anniversary of Germany competing as a unified nation in the Summer Olympics. The country was divided for 44 years of athletic competition, as well as existing as two separate nations divided by the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it only took three short years for the German athletes to come together as one to compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Germany won 33 gold medals, 21 silver medals, and 28 bronze medals in 1992, which up to now was its best Olympics showing since unification, finishing third in medal count and having dropped steadily in every Summer Olympics since.
The second significant anniversary is remembering the tragedy that struck the last time Germany hosted the Summer Olympics, 40 years ago at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Eleven Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists, and were later killed, along with a German police officer, after a failed attempt to rescue them. Although it is a sad recollection of the last time Germany hosted an Olympics, it will nonetheless command the attention of the world, and is already a controversial topic.
For a nation that is led by a powerful lady, Chancellor Angela Merkel, it is fitting that Germany's greatest ever gold-medal Olympic athlete is also a woman. German men have exemplified excellence in sports as eclectic as grand prix auto racing's seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and former NBA basketball MVP Dirk Nowitzki, and the German national team is a perennial powerhouse in World Cup soccer.
However, when it comes to the Summer Olympics, the German women are the athletes to watch when the medals are being awarded. Germany's all-time greatest gold-medal athlete is Birgit Fischer, who has won eight gold medals in kayaking, and competed in six Summer Olympics since 1980. Fischer likely would have won more medals, except that her native East Germany boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and she was unable to compete in those Games. Swimmer Britta Steffen and cyclist Lena Schöneborn are two more women stars to watch for Germany in the 2012 London Olympics.
Here is a breakdown of useful information about Germany and its Olympic history:
Area: 221,843 square miles
Economy: GDP of $3.577 trillion, largest economy in Europe, fifth largest in the world (according to the CIA World Factbook)
Olympics Hosted: 1936 in Berlin, and 1972 in Munich
Medals Won In Recent Olympics: Last four Summer Olympics: 41 (16 gold) at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 49 (13 gold) at the 2004 Athens Olympics, 56 (13 gold) at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, 65 (20 gold) at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics
Number of Athletes Competing at 2012 London Olympics: 391
Sports Germany Excels In: Kayaking, cycling, swimming, and equestrian
Olympic Appearances: 23. The 2012 London Olympics will mark Germany's sixth appearance as a unified nation since its debut at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
S. Holmes Bishop is a fan of the U.S. and German Olympic teams and watching Olympic sports in general.
- Sports & Recreation
- 2012 London Olympics