Gustav Schäfer

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGustav August•Schäfer
Used nameGustav•Schäfer
Born22 September 1906 in Johanngeorgenstadt, Sachsen (GER)
Died10 December 1991 in München (Munich), Bayern (GER)
AffiliationsDresdner RV, Dresden (GER)
NOC Germany


Before Gustav Schäfer took up rowing he played water polo, hockey and football. Above all, however, he was interested in swimming and was a member of the Dresden swimming club, and it was there that he was first given the nickname “Gummi” (rubber). He started rowing in fours and eights, but turned to single sculls in 1934, and that year won his first German title and also the European title. In 1935 he was second behind Herbert Buhtz and in 1936 beat Buhtz to regain his title.

Schäfer then became the first German sculler in the history of the Olympics to win a gold medal when he won the single sculls at the 1936 Berlin Games. In the final, Schäfer did not have any problems, winning the title with a couple of lengths to spare ahead of Josef Hasenöhrl of Austria, and Dan Barrow of the United States. The favorite before the race, Ernst Rufli of Switzerland, the Diamond Sculls winner in both in 1935 and 1936, finished only fifth.

Schäfer quit rowing straight after his Olympic triumph. Later that year, he and his rowing friend, the non-Olympian Georg von Opel, founded the German Olympic Society. During World War II Schäfer was captured by the Russians and remained as a POW in Russia until 1947. In 1988, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by West German president Richard von Weizsäcker. In 2008, Schäfer was inducted posthumously into the German Sports Hall of Fame.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Rowing GER Gustav Schäfer
Single Sculls, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold