Swimming: East German Olympic backstroke champion Roland Matthes dies at 69

In a photo taken on Sept 2, 1972, Roland Matthes swims on his way to winning the 200m backstroke during the Olympic Games in Munich. PHOTO: EPU

PARIS (AFP) - Germany's Roland Matthes, a four-time Olympic backstroke champion considered one of the best swimmers of his generation, died on Friday (Dec 20) at the age of 69, his family announced.

He won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke while representing East Germany at both the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the 1972 Games in Munich.

He earned silver twice in the 4x100m medley relay in 1968 and 1972, collecting bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay in 1972 as well as in the 100m backstroke in Montreal in 1976.

The former husband of East German swimmer Kornelia Ender, herself the winner of four Olympic golds, all in Montreal, also won three world titles.

Matthes, who was unbeaten in backstroke events between April 1967 and August 1974, worked as an orthopaedist following his swimming career.

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