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Karin Büttner-Janz

Karin Büttner-Janz Gymnast

The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Gymnast
A.K.A. Karin Janz
Is Gymnast Athlete Physician Artistic gymnast
From Germany Germany
Type Sports Healthcare
Gender female
Birth 17 February 1952, Lübben (Spreewald)
Age: 68 years
Karin Büttner-Janz
The details

Karin Büttner-Janz (born 17 February 1952) is a German medical doctor who won world and Olympic gold medals in artistic gymnastics for East Germany. From 1990 to 2012, she was chief physician of the orthopedic Vivantes hospital in Friedrichshain. She has a foundation named Spinefoundation.

Gymnastics career

Her first coach was her father Guido Janz, who taught her excellent basics. Büttner-Janz moved to a sports school in Forst, where she trained under Klaus Helbeck. Her final coach was Jürgen Heritz.

In 1967, at the age of 15, Büttner-Janz was nominated as East German Athlete of the Year despite not yet having had any international success. She went on to win the silver medal on the uneven bars and a bronze medal as part of the country's gymnastics team at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

At the 1970 world championships she overcame Ludmilla Tourischeva on the uneven bars to win the gold medal. In a controversial finish, she delivered another gold medal winning performance on the uneven bars at the 1972 Munich Olympics, defeating Olga Korbut on her favourite apparatus. She also won the gold medal on the vault, a silver medal as part of the East German women's gymnastic team, another prestigious silver medal in the all around competition, with Ludmilla Tourischeva of the Soviet Union winning the gold and Tamara Lazakovich of the Soviet Union winning the bronze, and bronze on the balance beam. She was the most successful sports woman of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) at the 1972 Summer Olympics and was recognized there as Sportswoman of the Year in 1972. After these successes she announced her intention of ending her competitive career to turn to the study of medicine to become a physician.

Büttner-Janz has an uneven bars element named after her, the Janz Salto, which she first performed in competition at the SV Dynamo Spartakiade in East Berlin, 1971.

Academic physician

Karin Büttner-Janz (left) and Kurt Schellnack (center) developed the artificial spine disk Charité Disc in the 1980s

Büttner-Janz studied at the Humboldt University in East Berlin beginning in 1971 and earned her diploma in emergency medicine. Later, she conducted her clinical semester at the orthopedic hospital of the Charité and went on to specialize in orthopaedics. She obtained her doctorate and habilitation through her work on the development of an artificial spine disk, known as the Charité Disc. She is co-owner of a patent on the device with her colleague Kurt Schellnack. Subsequently, Büttner-Janz moved to the clinic of Hellersdorf.

Personal life

In 2012, she was dismissed as the Chief Physician from two Berlin clinics. She was later awarded a compensation of 590,000 Euros by a court. During the trial she publicly came out as a lesbian, claiming she was fired in part for having a relationship with the company's Deputy Chief Executive. Other leading surgeons accused her of using the relationship to protect her own interests.



  • 1972 – awarded the title of Merited Master of Sport of the USSR.
  • 2000 – nominated as "Gymnast of the Century".
  • 2003 – inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.


  • 1984 – first OI, where their invention, Charite artificial spine disk was used.
  • 1987 – honorary member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine; consolation prize of the Olympic Committee “in appreciation of her outstanding sports and academic career”.
  • Panorama of the 1972 Sports Year (in Russian). Moscow: Fizkultura i sport. 1973. pp. 122–124. 
  • "Karin Janz". Inductees. International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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