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Summer Olympics History: Germany's Greatest Olympians

Top Ten Men and Women Before World War II

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Germany produced mixed results at the Summer Olympics held before World War I. German athletes had their best finish in the overall medal standings-a third-place one-in 1896.

Following World War I, Germany was not allowed to compete again at the Summer Olympics until 1928.

With its readmittance to Olympic competition, Germany finished second to the U.S. in the medal race at the Amsterdam Games.

Germany's participation at the Los Angeles Games four years later was curtailed due to the worldwide economic recession.

However, with Berlin as the host city of the Games in 1936, Germany finished atop the medal standings for the first time with 33 golds among its 89 total medals.

The following list includes brief information on the ten men and women that I consider to be Germany's greatest Summer Olympians before World War II:

Walter Bathe: Specializing in breaststroke swimming, Bathe bested the competition by a wide margin to win golds in the 200 and 400-meter breaststrokes at the 1912 Olympics.

Jakob Brendel: Brendel was a Greco-Roman wrestling star in the 1930s. He earned a gold in 1932, and followed with a bronze in front of the home crowd four years later in Berlin.

Tilly Fleischer: A top performer in women's field events, Fleischer won the javelin throw bronze in 1932, and improved upon that finish in '36 with the gold at the Berlin Games. In doing so, she gained the distinction of being the first German woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Konrad Frey: Frey thrilled the home fans in 1936 by winning six medals in gymnastics, including three golds. He was the most decorated athlete at the Berlin Games.

Rudolf Ismayr: Ismayr was a weightlifting star in the 1930s. He captured gold in his weight class in 1932, and capped off his Olympic career with a silver four years later.

Helene Mayer: Mayer was a fencing champion who won gold in the Individual Foil in 1928, and concluded her Olympic career eight years later with a bronze in the same event at the Berlin Games.

Carl Schuhmann: A remarkably talented athlete with great strength and agility, Schuhmann won four Olympic golds in 1896. He tallied three golds in gymnastics, and also was victorious for the lone Greco-Roman wrestling title at the Athens Games.

Alfred Schwarzmann: With teammate Konrad Frey, Schwarzmann helped lead Germany to the men's gymnastics All-Around title in 1936. Schwarzmann won a total of five medals at the Berlin Games. Following World War II, he earned silver in the Horizontal Bar at the Helsinki Games at the age of 40.

Josef Strassberger

: Strassberger was a top weightlifter for Germany in the Heavyweight division. He earned Olympic gold in 1928, and added a silver four years later at the Los Angeles Games.

Gerhard Stock: Stock joined teammates Tilly Fleischer and Hans Woellke in leading Germany to a domination of the field events at the Berlin Games. Stock won gold in the javelin throw and bronze in the shot put.

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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