16. December 2012  
Jesewitz / Leipzig, GERMANY  
Artistic Gymnastics

Surprising death of Germany s oldest Olympic Champion Klaus Köste

With great dismay the German and international gymnastics family has heard from the death of the Olympic Champion from Munich 1972 (vault), the 2-times high bar European Champion and 34-times German national champion Klaus KÖSTE has died in his home town Jesewitz in the north of Leipzig.

It was a suprising death due to heart failure only two months before his 70th birthday.
After heart surgery two times in the past he nonetheless represented a person who was fighting and not giving up and he managed to get back into very god shape.

He himself and also his family were happy that he even could get back to compete in seniors' gymnastics events.

After the death of Walther Steffens (2006),  Klaus Köste has beeen Germany's oldest Olympic Champion.

... Klaus Koestes last public appearance on the 2nd Advent in the city Schwarzenberg / Erzgebirge.

... this was his handstand still in August 2012 at the Gymnastics Festival in Artern

His father Gerhard has been a good gymnast himself. Mother Erna was a coach. In their hometown Frankfurt/Oder they built their son Klaus a real gymnastics garden in their own market garden facing the river Oder. Their Klaus could improve his gymnastics skills from the beginning on.

When he improved further, he continued to train in Leipzig with the coach Jochen Nonnast at the club "Deutschen Hochschule für Körperkultur" (DHfK). Here he started to become a world-class gymnast.

Klaus Köste took part in three Olympic Games, won gold on vault (1972) and three times bronze with the team (1964, 1968, 1972).
He won two bronze medals at World Championships: 1970 in Ljubljana with the team and on high-bar.

A remarkable awards ceremony at the WCh's 1970 in Ljubljana on high-bar. The gymnast from Leipzig (3rd from the left) next to four Japanese gymnasts - behind Eizo Kenmotsu and Akinori Nakayama as well as next to Takuji Hayata - the only European on the winners podium!
(C) LEON-Archiv / Schaar

At his two European Championships 1971 and 1973 he won two titels on high-bar, got third in the all-around and won overall 6 medals.
"For me, Klaus Köster not only was a good athlete, he also had a straight and honest character", mentioned the chief editor of the German gymnastics magazine LEON*, Andreas Götze, who himself received congratulations from Klaus Köste when he became national champion of the GDR in 1972 in Bad Liebenwerda ahead of Joachim Rühle.
"It was an honour for me, then 18 years old, to receive the congratulations of the 10 years older world star. I will never forget it!"

A bit more than years later he, then 31 years old, unfortunately had to stop competing at the World Championships 1974 in Varna due to an injury of the achilles tendon after the double somersault on floor. He then became head coach of the women's team in  Leipzig and following that worked at the university in Leipzig, where he himself had once studied.

He was married to Sabine, a physical education teacher and also their three children were close to gymnastics, Matthias, Michael and Tanja. Daughter Tanja was a member of the last GDR-team at the World Championships 1989 in Stuttgart.

Täve Schur, Klaus Köste, a picture from happy days, at the 65th birthday of Klaus Köste 2008

... international CONDOLENCES:

* David Pittaway (GBR):

* I had the priviledge to meet Klaus Köste right after Germany´s reunification. I was one of the three British trampoline gymnasts who together with Stewart Matthews and Paul Luxon and our 6 World Championship titles in trampoline participated in many shows together with Klaus and his group.
Klaus and his wife also came to our wedding in Leipzig. His death leaves a gap which will be difficult to fill. In addition to being a great athlete he also had a great personality. We will miss him a lot.

* David PITTAWAY, Trampolin World Champion, Great Britain