Claudia Heill

Claudia Heill
Claudia Heill

Claudia Heill (2010)
Personal information
Born 24 January 1982(1982-01-24)
Died 31 March 2011(2011-03-31) (aged 29)
Vienna, Austria
Sport Judo

Claudia Heill (24 January 1982 – 31 March 2011) was an Austrian judoka best known for winning the silver medal in the half-middleweight (63 kg) division at the 2004 Summer Olympics.[1]


She also won silver medals at the European championship in 2001 and 2005 and bronze medals in 2002, 2003 and 2007. She placed fifth at the 2008 Summer Olympics and retired one year later. After retiring from competition she began coaching junior judoka. On 31 March 2011, she died by falling out of a sixth story window in Vienna.[2] It is not known whether it was an accident[3] or suicide. Heill was renowned as a fiercely determined and focused competitor which makes it all the more difficult to comprehend how such a seemingly healthy and accomplished young woman may have taken her own life. She showed early signs of that determination when in 1998 aged just 16 she announced her arrival by winning the -63 kg category at the Senior Austrian National Championships. Later that same year Heill won silver at the Junior World Championships (Cali) where she lost to the Japanese Maeda Keiko.

Within a month Heill again tasted success, this time taking the gold medal at the Junior European Championships (Bucharest) to cap an incredible year. Heill’s position as a world-class judoka in the -63 kg category was developing quickly. But she was not quite finished with the juniors yet and in 2000 made another assault on the Junior World Championships (Nabul) winning bronze and the Junior European Championships (Nicosia) where she won silver. By 2001 the time had come for Heill to begin concentrating on her senior career and she proved herself ready by taking a silver medal in the European Championships (Paris) and placing fifth at the World Championships (Munich).

Heill went on to spend the next seven years competing on the international stage and was arguably among the most successful in her category. She was one of four celebrated Austrians (Sabrina Filzmoser, Ludwig Paischer and Andreas Mitterfellner making up the quartet) to take gold medals at the World Military Championships in 2006 helping her country to huge success in topping the medal table. Her finest hour however was undoubtedly her silver medal winning performance at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. “This had been her dream even as she began practicing her first judo attacks as a seven-year-old,” said her longtime coach Hubert Rohrauer. She retired after placing fifth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Heill was part of the organizing committee at the European Championships in Vienna in 2010. She was generally considered to be welcoming, professional and proved a perfect choice to market Austria’s staging of Europe’s premier event. Shortly before her death Heill was heard commentating and was seen on JudoTV at the Judo World Cup in Oberwart looking happy, fit and healthy. The role of TV presenter was one to which she was well suited given her knowledge, experience, and completely relaxed nature around the sport that she had spent most of her life enjoying. Her former teammate Ludwig Paischer was stunned by her tragic death. "She was such a fun-loving, friendly person."


External links

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