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
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.
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
The sport of gymnastics has come
under fire in recent years. Anke is very quick to defend her beloved sport. She
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.