As fast as Jesse Owens: "The White Lightning" is dead: Heinz Fütterer died at the age of 87

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Elchesheim-Illingen (dpa) - They called him the "White Lightning", he was once as fast as the famous Jesse Owens: Former sprint star Heinz Fütterer is dead.

He died at night on Sunday at the age of 87 after a short illness at home in Baden Elchesheim-Illingen, as his son Marc confirmed the German Press Agency. Fütterer set the 100-meter world record of Jesse Owens in 1954, when he ran hand-stopped in Japan for 10.2 seconds. Its popularity and prestige at the time can best be measured by the fact that Fütterer was "Sportsman of the Year" in 1954 - not football world champion Fritz Walter, who came second in the poll after the "Miracle of Bern".

Until late in November, the agile Fütterer had played golf until old age. The trained fisherman and later successful businessman was three times European champion between 1954 and 1958 and won the 1956 Olympic bronze medal with the German 4 x 100-meter relay. Fütterer never ran against the great Jesse Owens, and yet his name is closely linked to the athletics icon.

On the occasion of his 85th birthday, Fütterer said in an interview with the German Press Agency: "I'm fine so far." His recipe: every day in-house gym and his elixir from the Black Forest - the milk. But then he complained a bit: In a fall he had injured a tendon in his shoulder, because he loved the beloved Golf hard. At his best, he had handicap twelve, which is worthy of all honor.

During his heyday, Fütterer was the fastest man in the world. The athlete from Karlsruher SC won 536 international races, remained unbeaten from 1953 to 1955 and was 1954 European champion over 100 and 200 meters. His European record over 200 meters (20.8 seconds) lasted over 20 years. Today's sprinters can not believe such a thing, but: Fütterer usually performed over 100 races per season.

To the Jamaican superstar and eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt Fütterer always had a clear opinion: "I still say: He is clean!" Almost all the medals and memorabilia of his impressive career are in the Museum of Local History in Illingen or at a traveling exhibition for «Sportsman of the Year» to see. But a copy of the oil painting by Hans Borchert for the Hall of Fame members hung in Fütterer's home near the Rhine. The picture gave his home town times to its most famous son.

His only Olympic medal came from Baden in 1956 from Melbourne, where he won bronze together with the German squadron. However, he came with an injury-related training backlog and retired in the 100-meter intermediate. Two years later, Martin Lauer, Manfred Steinbach, Fütterer and Manfred Germar ran in Cologne in 39.5 seconds world record over 4 x 100 meters.

In 1952 at the Summer Games in Helsinki Fütterer was missing. One day before leaving he had a muscle injury. "A world collapsed for me," he recalls. "I already had the official suit and a hat on, the first hat of my life."

Jesse Owens, the Nazi-hated Olympic hero of Berlin in 1936, who died in 1980, has met Fütterer only once: on the sidelines of the Melbourne Games, for a photo shoot. But in the museum of local history of Illingen there is a tin toy: If you drive the two athletes on the track with the crank, Fütterer overtakes the legendary American in the final sprint.

Feeder in the Hall of Fame of the German sport


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