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Ursula Happe

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameUrsula•Happe (Krey-)
Used nameUrsula•Happe
Born20 October 1926 in Gdańsk, Pomorskie (POL)
Died26 March 2021 in Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen (GER)
AffiliationsSV Westfalen, Dortmund (GER)
NOC Germany
Nationality West Germany


Ursula Happe had four children, two being born in between her Olympic appearances in 1952 and 1956. One of her children was German international and Olympic handball player Thomas Happe. After the end of World War II, she escaped with her family from Gdańsk to Kiel, where she married her coach Heinz Günter Happe.

At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Happe represented West Germany, but was eliminated at the semi-final stage in the 200 metres breaststroke. At Melbourne four years later, however, when swimming for the German mixed team, she won the gold medal by beating the 1952 champion and arch rival Éva Székely. Between the two Olympics she retired to have two babies, and only re-started her training for the Melbourne Games at the beginning of 1956. In November 1956, Happe won the 200 meter chest in Melbourne in 2: 53.1 minutes. Her victory made her Germany’s first Olympic swimming gold medalist after World War II.

In 1954 and 1956, Happe was voted Sportswoman of the Year in West Germany and received the Silver Laurel Leaf in both years. In 1954 she was the surprise European 200 breaststroke champion when she also won the bronze medal in the 100 butterfly. She won a total of 18 national titles, the first one in 1949. In 1996 she was awarded the Verdienstorden of Nordrhein-Westfalen (Order of Merit of North Rhine-Westphalia). In 1997 she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal Nationality As
1952 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) GER FRG Ursula Happe
4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay, Women (Olympic) Unified Team of Germany DNS
200 metres Breaststroke, Women (Olympic) 13
1956 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) GER FRG Ursula Happe
200 metres Breaststroke, Women (Olympic) 1 Gold

Olympic family relations

Special Notes