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An unforgettable day in sports: anniversaries, records, holidays, dramas, legends and forgotten heroes. In our daily look back into sports history, today we remember Jürgen Hingsen and the dramatic 1988 Olympic decathlon in Seoul, which began for the co-favorite and world record holder with three false starts in the 100 meters and ended with a disqualification even before the first discipline.

He had aimed for gold in the decathlon at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. But in the end, Jürgen Hingsen experienced what was probably the bitterest defeat of his career. On September 28, Hingsen, who had previously won the silver medal in Los Angeles in 1984, started as a co-favorite. However, the competition was over for the Duisburg athlete before it had even begun.
At that time, every starter in the running competitions of athletics was disqualified only after the third false start. What was still within the realm of possibility in the sprints seemed inconceivable in the decathlon, where there were nine other disciplines after the 100 meters. But Hingsen came off the starting block three times too early: the end already in the first discipline. “At that time I became the nation’s fool,” he is quoted in the “Morgenpost”: “I still have nightmares today.”

Unusual day: Jürgen Hingsen experienced three false starts at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and retired early from the decathlon


The decisive factor, he says, was a knee injury that hampered him in the high jump. “In the high jump, I knew exactly, there I will only last two jumps. That’s why I had to put all my eggs in one basket for the 100-meter race, the first discipline,” explained Hingsen.

In 1989, Hingsen ended his active career in competitive sports. His personal best of 8832 points from 1984 stood as the German record for 39 years until it was surpassed by Leo Neugebauer (8836 points) in June last year.

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