Birgit Fischer - German

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Birgit Fischer - Member of the World Paddle Awards Academy

Birgit Fischer is, without a doubt, the greatest female paddler (in kayak sprint) of all time. Though her record-breaking Olympic performances were in the 500m distance – in all classes (K1, K2 and K4), she has also raced over the more recent 200m distance as well as 1000m.

She is 8th most successful Olympian ever, with a total of 12 medals. Competing at 6 Olympic Games between 1980 (Moscow) and 2004 (Athens), during a career spanning over 24 years, she won a staggering 8 kayak golds and 4 silvers, first for East Germany then for unified Germany. She would have certainly continued her dominance in the 1984 Olympics if there had not been a boycott.

Birgit still holds the record for being both the youngest and oldest Olympic paddler to win gold, at age 18 and 42, as well as being the most decorated German Olympian ever. Furthermore, she did what no other woman has ever done before; win an Olympic medal 24 years after her first one.

Paddling since 1968, Birgit's first coach was her father, Karl-Heinz Fischer, at their local canoe club BSG Stahl Brandenburg. Between 1979 and 2005, Birgit dominated the sport by winning an astonishing 27 World Championships, and winning 6 silver and 4 bronze medals. Unbelievably, Birgit won gold in all three 500m competitions (K1, K2, and K4) at 5 World Championships (1981 Nottingham, 1982 Belgrade, 1983 Tampere, 1985 Mechelen, 1987 Duisburg).

Her accomplishments earned her the numerous honours: the 2001 Order of Merit of the Federal State of Berlin, 2002 Medal of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg, 2000/2004 Bambi, 2004 Sports Star Award and 2000 Award for 'athlete with a heart' and in 2004 she was voted German Sportswoman of the Year.

Graduating with a degree in Sports Science from Leipzig University in 1991 and later in postgraduate studies from the University of Potsdam, Birgit served as a Physical Education Instructor in the German National People's Army, achieving the rank of Major. She has addditionally worked as National Coach for the German Canoe Federation.

Following distance learning at IS Düsseldorf, Birgit specialises in sports and tourism management. She ran as candidate in the 1999 European Parliament elections.

In 2004, she opened 'KanuFish', a paddle-training school which includes personal, group and corporate training.

Birgit's family is also known in the paddling sphere. From 1984 to 1993 she was married to Jörg Schmidt, who won silver in C1 1000m at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was World Champion in 1982.

Her niece Fanny took home gold in the K4 500m at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Fanny is also a 4-time European Champion and has triumphed in World Championships with 3 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals. Fanny and Birgit were a medal-winning pair in K2 500m at the 2005 World Championships and the European Championships the same year, gaining bronze in both competitions.

Birgit's brother Frank won 9 World Championship medals in K2 and K4 500/1000m (1981 to 1986: 4 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze).

Birgit brings a life time of athletic, coaching and corporate-training expertise, adding excellence to our organisation.


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