Olympics History >> Seoul 1988 >> Key Moments

Seoul 1988 - Key Moments

Queen Kristin, ruler of the 100m kingdom

As soon as the curtain was raised on the Olympic Games in Seoul, Kristin Otto wrote herself into the Olympic record books.

With a total of six gold medals, she became the most decorated woman ever in a single Olympiad, all sports combined.

The only person to have bettered this feat was Mark Spitz. The king of the pool's wait for his Olympic queen had taken 16 years.

Having arrived in South Korea with an already impressive world pedigree, the East German swimmer was more than eager to avenge her lack of Olympic medals due to the boycott of the Eastern European countries at the Los Angeles Games.

Standing tall (1.85m), Otto was regarded as the rightful owner of the 100m freestyle title and was favourite for the gold. With a time of 54.93 secs, she beat China's Zhuang Yong (55.47) and France's Catherine Plewinski (55.49), a swimmer more known for the butterfly event.

With as much ease, Otto also won the 100m backstroke (1:00.89) ahead of Hungary's Krisztina Egerszegi (1:01.56) and her compatriot Cornelia Svich (1:01.57). An hour later she continued her winning form in the 4x100 freestyle.

Extraordinary technique

The next day, she completed an extraordinary triple victory by winning the 100m butterfly following her successes in the crawl and backstroke. In doing so, she established a new European record (59.00), beating her compatriot Birte Weigang and China's Qian Hong.

The 4x100m medley was a mere formality - with the East Germans coming in a full four seconds in front of their nearest opponents.

Finally, Otto grabbed her sixth medal of the Games in the 50m sprint touching home in a time of 25.49 secs - a few centimetres ahead of China's Yang Wenyi (25.64) and two other swimmers whom the time judges were unable to separate, East Germany's Katrin Meissner and the American Jill Sterkel (25.71).

Otto's achievement was largely thanks to the extent of her talent. Her equal ease in the crawl, the backstroke and the butterfly led many people to label her the most complete swimmer of all time.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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