European Athletics is very saddened to hear of the passing of legendary German race walker Hartwig Gauder who died of a heart attack on Wednesday (22) at the age of 65.
After winning the 10,000m race walk at the 1973 European Athletics U20 Championships, Gauder swept all of the major titles in the 50km race walk in a seven-year period in the 1980s. After winning the Olympic title in Moscow in 1980, Gauder had to wait six years before adding the European title to his collection in Stuttgart in 1986 before winning the world title in Rome the following year.
Gauder added a bronze medal to his tally at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and his career even spanned German reunification. He won bronze medals for a reunified German team at the 1990 European Championships in Split and 1991 World Championships in Tokyo and his last significant international performance was a sixth-place finish at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
His championship records lasted a generation. Gauder's winning times of 3:40:55 at the 1986 European Championships and 3:40:53 at the 1987 World Championships were only beaten by Poland’s Robert Korzeniowski, the only other athlete to win the same trio of major titles in the event, in the early 2000s.
Gauder suffered from health complications after retiring in 1993 and was diagnosed with a bacterial heart infection. He initially received an artificial heart and in 1997 he underwent a heart transplant. From then on he worked tirelessly with various organ donation organisations, ran the New York Marathon with a transplanted heart and even climbed the highest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji.
'Hartwig Gauder was not just a walking legend and a great Olympic champion, but an outstanding personality in sport. Despite his great success, he has always stayed on the ground and has always worked for athletics and organ donation even after his heart transplant,” said Jurgen Kessing, President of the German Athletics Association.
“Quite rightly, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of German Sports in 2016. Our deep sympathy goes to his relatives, whom we wish a lot of strength in times of mourning.”
Ã¢€‹With assistance from the German Athletics Association