Whatever Happened to
Anke Schonfelder?

Photo used with the expressed permission
of Sato Takeo
of the OEFC Gymnastics Gallery

Schonfelder's Competitive Results:

1984 GDR Spartakiade
1989 GDR Nationals: 3rd AA
1989 International Japan Junior Invitational: 17th AA
1990 GDR vs USA: 9th AA
1990 European Championships: 41st AA
1990 GDR vs SUI
1990 World Cup: 17th AA
1991 Catania Cup: 11th AA
1991 DTB Cup: 11th AA
1991 Cottbus International: 3rd AA
1991 World Championships: 10th T
1992 Cottbus International: 6th AA
1992 Hungarian International: 28th AA
1992 Olympics: 9th T
1994 German Nationals

Results courtesy of Gymn Forum

Anke Schonfelder was born on October 2, 1975 and began gymnastics in her native Berlin, Germany at age 5. Anke's natural talent was recognized and she was eventually accepted to train under the guidance of Roland Bruckner, gold medallist on floor at the 1980 Olympics, at the famous Dynamo Berlin club. 

At age 14, Anke competed in her first major international competition, the 1989 International Japan Junior Invitational. The field of competition that year was quite possibly the strongest in the meet's history, including future superstars Tatiana Lysenko (URS/UKR), Shannon Miller (USA), and Gina Gogean (ROM). Disappointing performances on bars and beam led to a 17th place finish.

Anke improved over the next year, earning the opportunity to represent the German Democratic Republic at the 1990 European Championships. During that year Germany was reunited, an event that puzzled the 15-year-old Anke. As she told  GYMeurope, "This was so very strange! First we had the GDR National anthem and our GDR leotards. Seven days later we had completely different leotards and a different anthem!" That same year Anke was chosen to represent the unified Germany at the World cup. She placed 17th AA. 

At the 1991 World Championships, Anke helped her team qualify to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The German women's team has not qualified a full team to the Olympics since these Games. In Barcelona Anke suffered a terrible fall from the uneven bars. Anke told GYMeurope that "even today [it's] very painful me! It's even harder because it is one of the favourite clips for Sports Bloopers shows - it is shown so many times on TV....mentally I felt so ashamed, I was looking for a place to hide [in Barcelona]." 

After the Olympic disappointment, Anke began to become disinterested in gymnastics. Training was put on hold while she underwent an operation on her hand. She began to eat a lot and gain weight. Anke eventually shook the depression and made a comeback at the 1994 German National Championships, winning three bronze medals. Anke capped off her gymnastics later that year with a successful performance at the DTB Cup.

GYMeurope recently caught up with Anke. Following gymnastics Anke was hired to provide dance and tumbling during the intermission at basketball games. Eventually, Anke moved to Africa. She spent one year in South Africa and one year in Namibia. In the summer of 2000 she and a friend will be opening a dance school in Namibia. In the meantime she is studying at the UNISA University of South Africa in Pretoria and also works as a volunteer for the German Gymnastics Organization. 

The sport of gymnastics has come under fire in recent years. Anke is very quick to defend her beloved sport. She told GYMeurope that she gets, "...very angry when the so-called "media" talks about gymnastics. They always say that the young gymnasts are forced against their will to train, but this is simply not true. If you don't want to train NOBODY can force you, and if they do then you cannot have good results." One of Anke's hopes is to become a journalist for African gymnastics. Her experience is sure to prove beneficial.  

Many thanks to Richard for translating GYMeurope's interview with Schonfelder.

. This page was created on March 26, 2000.


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