Two-time East German Olympian Erika Zuchold died Saturday in Asunción, Paraguay, where she had been living since June. She was 68.
The innovative Zuchold was a star for East Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, winning five Olympic medals, five world medals and seven European championships medals during her career.
Zuchold on beam in 1964, the year she debuted the first back handspring on balance beam
Zuchold was born Erika Barth in post-war Germany in the town of Lucka, near Leipzig, where she trained at SC Leipzig. She is the first gymnast on record to compete a back handspring on beam, which she did at the 1964 East German championships in Halle. She also invented an eponymous move on uneven bars, a stoop-jam-dislocate transition from the high bar to the low bar.
She made her world championships debut two years later in Dortmund, where she won the bronze on vault. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, she helped East Germany win the bronze in the team competition, and individually she won the bronze in the vault, She tied Larissa Petrik for fourth in the all-around.
Zuchold's most successful competition came at the 1970 World Championships in Ljubljana, where she was crowned world champion on both vault and balance beam, and won silver medals in the team competition and in the all-around. For her achievement, she was recognized as East Germany's Female Athlete of the Year in 1970.
Zuchold ended her career at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, where she won silver medals with the team, on vault and on uneven bars.
After retiring, she worked as an artist, dancer and art teacher. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2005. She continued to paint and show her artwork, and in February exhibited 70 of her paintings and scultupres at a gallery in Leuna, Germany.
Zuchold's husband,former Leipzig cyclist Dieter Zuchold, died in February 2014, aged 77. This summer Zuchold immigrated to Paraguay, where her mother and sister were living.
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