Born in Rostock, East Germany, on February 9, 1965, Christian Schenk stands 2.01m and weighs 92 kilos. As a youngster he was primarily a straddle high-jumper (taking third at Spartakaid in the high jump when he was just 16), but he converted to multi-events at age 18. By age 23 he was the Olympic champion. Ironically he claimed the East German junior crown in 1983, then went 5 years without a decathlon win.
In 1983, then 1.96m and 80 kilos, he raised eyebrows by taking a runner-up spot to Estonian Valter Külvet at the European Juniors. A year later, while still a junior, he posted an 8000+score. At 20 (in 1985) he made suprising progress, placing fourth in the Euro Cup A and scoring over 8000 on three occasions. But he was consistently overshadowed by GDR teammates Uwe Freimuth and Torsten Voss. Freimuth remains the third-highest performer ever (8792 points in 1984), and Voss became the 1987 world champion.
Christian missed the entire 1986 season, withdrawing from the Gotzis opener after one event. But in 1987 he posted two additional lifetime best scores, a runner-up 8228 versus USSR and a fifth-place 8304 at the World Championships under atrocious conditions. It was in the latter meet in Roma that he dazzled the crowd as lightning from a coming storm danced in the skies. He leaped 2.25m, then passed 2.28m, a height that would have broken the world decathlon best, only to miss closely at 2.31m. In decathlon history no one has ever attempted such a height.
The year 1988 was even better for the single medical student. His coach, Dr. Klaus-Gerhard Schlottke of SC Empor Rostock (club) had Christian ready. He improved in each of four meets, getting three PR scores. After a third-place finish (8255) at the GDR nationals in Gottbus, Christian PRd at Gotzis with an 8330 fifth-place finish. One month later the tall German improved to 8475 behind another Christian, France’s Plaziat.
He was primed in Seoul. Two days before the affair even Voss was picking him as a winner. He stood ninth after two events but got rolling with four PRs and equaled a fifth in the next six events to lock up the Olympic title. He scored another PR, 8488, to capture Olympic gold and equaled the decathlon world best in the high jump. 2.27m in the process.