Thomas Schönlebe

Last updated
Thomas Schönlebe
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0817-005, Thomas Schonlebe.jpg
Schönlebe in 1986
Personal information
Born6 August 1965 (1965-08-06) (age 54)
Frauenstein, East Germany
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight74 kg (163 lb)

Thomas Schönlebe (born 6 August 1965) is a retired East German track and field athlete who competed in the 400 metres. He won the gold medal at the 1987 World Championships. In that race, he set a European record of 44.33 seconds which still stands as of 2019.

Track and field Sport involving running, jumping and throwing disciplines

Track and field is a sport which includes athletic contests established on the skills of running, jumping, and throwing. The name is derived from where the sport takes place, a running track and a grass field for the throwing and some of the jumping events. Track and field is categorized under the umbrella sport of athletics, which also includes road running, cross country running, and race walking.

400 metres sprint running event

The 400 metres, or 400 metre dash, is a sprinting event in track and field competitions. It has been featured in the athletics programme at the Summer Olympics since 1896 for men and since 1964 for women. On a standard outdoor running track, it is one lap around the track. Runners start in staggered positions and race in separate lanes for the entire course. In many countries, athletes previously competed in the 440 yard dash (402.336 m)—which is a quarter of a mile and was referred to as the 'quarter-mile'—instead of the 400 m (437.445 yards), though this distance is now obsolete.

1987 World Championships in Athletics 1987 edition of the World Championships in Athletics

The 2nd World Championships in Athletics under the auspices of the International Association of Athletics Federations were held in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy between August 28 and September 6, 1987.


A year earlier, Schönlebe had finished second at the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart behind Roger Black. One of his last achievements was the third place at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart with the (now unified) German 4 × 400 m relay team.

1986 European Athletics Championships 1986 edition of the European Athletics Championships

The 14th European Athletics Championships were held from 26 to 31 August 1986 at the Neckarstadion, now known as Mercedes-Benz Arena, in Stuttgart, a city in West Germany. Contemporaneous reports on the event were given in the Glasgow Herald.

Roger Black British sprinter

Roger Anthony BlackMBE is a British retired athlete. During his athletics career, he won individual silver medals in the 400 metres sprint at both the Olympic Games and World Championships, two individual gold medals at the European Championships, and 4 × 400 metres relay gold medals at both the World and European Championships. Since retiring from athletics, he has worked as a television presenter and motivational speaker. In 2008, Black joined forces with fellow athlete Steve Backley and operate BackleyBlack LLP delivering Olympic Performance in the Workplace. Black has a collection of fifteen medals from major senior athletics competitions to add to his two European junior championship gold medals.

1993 World Championships in Athletics 1993 edition of the World Championships in Athletics

The 4th World Championships in Athletics, under the auspices of the International Association of Athletics Federations, were held in the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium, Stuttgart, Germany between August 13 and August 22 with the participation of 187 nations. Having originally being held every four years in 1983, 1987 and 1991 these championships began a two-year cycle between events.

Schönlebe achieved three world indoor records during his career [1] [2] :

Note: Schönlebe's first record has the distinction of being the inaugural record at the distance when the IAAF established the category of world indoor records on January 1 1987.

Schönlebe later became chief executive officer of his hometown club, LAC Erdgas Chemnitz [3]

In 1994, he was the awarded the Rudolf Harbig Memorial Award.

International competitions

Representing Flag of East Germany.svg  East Germany
1983 European Junior Championships Schwechat, Austria1st400 m45.64
1st4 × 400 m3:04.95
European Cup London, UK2nd400 m45.70
1985 World Indoor Games Paris, France1st400 m45.60
European Cup Moscow, Soviet Union1st400 m44.96
World Cup Canberra, Australia2nd400 m44.72
2nd4 × 400 m3:00.82
1986 European Indoor Championships Madrid, Spain1st400 m46.98
European Championships Stuttgart, Germany2nd400 m44.63
6th4 × 400 m3:04.87
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy1st400 m44.33
heats4 × 400 mDNF
European Cup Prague, Czechoslovakia1st400 m44.96
1st4 × 400 m3:00.80
1988 European Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary4th (sf)400 m46.86
Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea9th (sf)400 m44.90
4th4 × 400 m3:01.13
1989 World Cup Barcelona, Spain5th4 × 400 m3:02.73
1990 European Championships Solit, Yugoslavia2nd400 m45.13
3rd4 × 400 m3:01.51
Representing Flag of Germany.svg  Germany
1991 World Indoor Championships Seville, Spain1st4 × 400 m3:03.05
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain15th (qf)400 m45.46
heats4 × 400 mDNF
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany3rd4 × 400 m2:59.99
(#) Indicates overall position in quartefinal (qf) or semifinal (sf) round

Note: Schönlebe qualified for the 1988 European Indoor final but withdrew.

World rankings

Schonlebe was ranked among the best in the world at the 400 m sprint events in the period 1983–87 (including world number one in 1987), according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News . [4]