Olympic champion Klaus Wolfermann
“God has given me an unbelievable sense of ambition”
Only two centimeters. That was all TUM Alumnus Klaus Wolfermann needed for victory. At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the javelin thrower beat the Latvian favorite, took home the gold medal and wrote sporting history.
Klaus Wolfermann has been fascinated by sport since childhood. His father, a blacksmith, was also a successful gymnast who always took his son with him to training. “From then on sport was the elixir of my life”, says Klaus Wolfermann. “I wanted to find out which abilities had been given to me and how far I could go. Klaus Wolfermann went from gymnastics to handball to pentathlon and decathlon and this brought him to javelin throwing.
Studies in Munich
After training as a toolmaker in Nuremberg, he set himself the goal of studying to become a sports teacher in Munich. In 1965 he joined the Bavarian Sports Academy, which was integrated into TUM in 1972. In his youth and also when he was a sports student, Klaus Wolfermann liked to push himself to the limits of his physical performance capabilities and beyond. After completing his studies, the javelin thrower accepted a position as a sports instructor at SV Gendorf. He was able to continue his hobby – competitive sports – there, alongside his job. “I was able to train twice a day: two hours before work, two hours after work or two and a half hours after work. Thanks to this ambitious schedule and his very good achievements, Klaus Wolfermann was able to take part in the qualifications for the Olympic Games in Mexico already in 1968: “Unfortunately, I finished thirteenth over there – and it’s the first 12 who qualify to go further.”
I barreled through like a madman.
Four years later things were different. At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the city where he studied, Klaus Wolfermann was allowed to throw. He defeated his biggest rival, the Latvian Jānis Lūsis, with a lead of only two centimeters. “I had my shutters battered down and I just barreled through my throws like a madman,” Klaus Wolfermann says, remembering back to those decisive minutes. After his victory, the first thing he did was go to Jānis Lūsis and apologize for winning. “He was clearly disappointed, no question, but he bore it with dignity like a great competitor. We have been friends ever since.”
Working hard for organ donations for children
After my active sports career, Klaus Wolfermann had a very successful 13 years at Puma as the head of promotion. After that he founded his own agency. He is still organizing events to this day, especially for the KiO-Kinderhilfe Organtransplantation. Thanks to his passionate nature, he manages to gain the enthusiasm of prominent medal-winners for the good causes he supports. They include the former handball professional Heiner Brand and the high-jumper Ulrike Nasse-Meyfahrt. “I’m lucky to be part of a community of former athletes who are very involved. At each event, I have between eight and 15 prominent individuals of my generation who support me. I really take my hat off to them,” says Klaus Wolfermann proudly. He is happy to be able to help others with his work. “When you see all the things that children can do again after a successful organ transplant, including sports, with their eyes sparkling, it’s really fantastic.”
State approved freelance physical education teacher 1968
Klaus Wolfermann completed his training as a freelance sports teacher at the Bavarian Sports Academy (BSA), which was integrated into the TUM in 1972. His greatest athletic success was victory in the javelin competition of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where he defeated the highly favored world record holder Jānis Lūsis with a throw of 90.48 meters. Klaus Wolfermann was German champion in the javelin six times in a row. He was proclaimed German Sports Personality of the Year in the Federal Republic of Germany twice and European Athlete of the Year once. After the end of his career as a javelin thrower in 1978, Wolfermann was active as brakeman and pusher in bobsled and in 1979, in the four-man crew under the pilot Georg Heibl, he achieved German runner-up and fourth place in the European Cup. Klaus Wolfermann’s fame attracted the interest of sporting goods companies. In 1980 he accepted a position as head of the promotion department at Puma and he travelled around the world in this role. Today, Klaus Wolfermann runs a sports marketing agency and is the chairman of FC Olympia, an association of German medal winners who participate in football, volleyball, golf and other events for charitable purposes. He is an ambassador for the Special Olympics, the only IOC-authorized sports association for mentally handicapped people. He was also an ambassador for Munich’s 2018 winter Olympics bid. He has been married to his wife Friederike since 1967. He has a daughter and granddaughter and lives in Penzberg in Upper Bavaria.
Klaus Wolfermann in interview: Read the entire conversation in the current issue of our Alumni magazine>