Decathlon Olympic champion Willi Holdorf is dead. The 1964 gold medalist in Tokyo died on Sunday evening at the age of 80 after a serious illness in the Schleswig-Holstein Achterwehr near Kiel, as his wife Sabine Holdorf-Schust confirmed.
Holdorf was the first German to be crowned Olympic champion in decathlon on October 19, 1964. According to him, only the then GDR athlete Christian Schenk succeeded in Seoul in 1988.
Holdorf's triumph is primarily linked to the pictures of the final 1,500-meter race: the last steps to victory were staggering in serpentine lines. Holdorf started the race with an 18 second lead after nine disciplines and crossed the finish line eleven seconds after his Russian competitor Rein Aun. In the end, he won with 7,887 points.
The gold medal hangs in the German Sports and Olympic Museum in Cologne.
He ended his career at the age of 24 because he had to earn money to support his family. As an athletics coach, he led pole vaulter Claus Schiprowski to Olympic silver in 1968. From 1971 to 1973 he was a brakeman in a two-man and a push in a four-man bob - and in 1973 he won European bronze with Horst Floth.
He had less success as a football coach at Fortuna Cologne - an office he only held for five months. He worked as a representative of the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas until 2016. He contributed to the success story of the handball Bundesliga club THW Kiel as a partner and was a member of the supervisory board.
Finally, in 2011 Holdorf was inducted into the Hall of Fame of German sports.