Waldemar Cierpinski

Waldemar Cierpinski

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Waldemar Cierpinski
Event steeplechase & marathon
Height 5'7" (170 cm)
Weight 130 lbs (59 kg)
Nationality East German
PR Mar - 2.09.55 (1976)
Born August 3, 1950 at Neugattersleben, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
Club Sportclub Chemie Halle

Waldemar Cierpinski (1950-) is a former East German athlete and two time Olympic Champion in the marathon.



Born in Neugattersleben (Saxony-Anhalt, former East Germany), Waldemar Cierpinski was originally a successful steeplechase runner but decided to switch to the marathon in 1974.

He was virtually unknown when he entered the 1976 Olympic marathon. He ran with the lead pack until Frank Shorter of the United States broke free after the 25 km mark. Cierpinski chased Shorter down then took the lead, winning the race by 51 seconds.

Cierpinski's victory was so unexpected that eventual East German gold medalist goalie Jürgen Croy rallied his football team by using him as an example, saying that if this "living example of mediocrity" could win a gold medal then they should be able to beat Poland (by a 3 to 1 score.)[1]

Cierpinski finished in fourth place at the 1978 European Championships. In the 1980 Summer Olympics, Cierpinski ran wisely and didn't match the suicidal pace the leaders had set. He caught up to the leaders at the 36 km mark and soon led by a healthy margin. Although Gerard Nijboer from the Netherlands narrowed the gap in the last kilometre, Cierpinski sprinted the last 200 m to win his second Olympic gold and duplicate the feat of legendary Ethiopian Abebe Bikila of winning two Olympic marathons.

Cierpinski finished third in the marathon in the 1983 World Championships in Athletics. He was denied a chance of an unprecedented third Olympic marathon win by the Eastern Bloc boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

In Track and Field News World Rankings, Cierpinski was ranked first in the marathon in 1976 and 1980 and eighth in 1978 and 1983.

Waldemar Cierpinski is now a member of the German Olympic Committee. Since 2007 Cierpinski is honorary member of the SG WiP Goettingen 06.[2]

Drug Allegations

It is now well known that East Germany operated a state-sponsored system of providing performance-enhancing drugs to as many as 10,000 athletes from about 1968 to 1988.

1976 silver medallist Frank Shorter believes Cierpinski cheated and has been a vocal advocate for officially reviewing past performances, i.e. considering stripping medals from athletes who are found later on to have cheated, as a deterrent to drug-cheats.[3]

His son, Falk Cierpinski, is also a marathon runner with a personal best of 2:19:06.[4] He is the husband of Olympian Maritta Polit.

External links


  1. Vikramdeep Johal, The Tribune Online, September 4, 2004
  2. SG WiP Goettingen 06
  3. OLYMPICS; U.S. Seeks Redress for 1976 Doping In Olympics, By JERE LONGMAN, New York Times, Published: October 25, 1998
  4. http://www.iaaf.org/LRR08/news/newsid=44599.html Retrieved 2008-09-28.