Kornelia Ender Bio | Career & Net Worth

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Kornelia Ender is an East German professional swimmer who won four gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Ender was naturally good at swimming from her early days. Thus, well-known East German coaches spotted her natural abilities and trained her for professional competitions.

The prodigy swimmer experienced her first taste of the Olympic games in 1972 when she was only thirteen years old. She came second in the 200-meter individual medley and helped the German Democratic Republic win a silver medal.

Kornelia Ender
First woman swimmer to win four gold medals in Olympic Games, Kornelia Ender.

The reason for considering Kornelia Ender as one of the finest swimmers in history is that she never backed off despite the difficulties women faced in sports in those days.

She was even inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1981. However, Ender’s success was clouded by drug usage charges on her among other athletes. 

This article brings you Kornelia Ender’s early life, Olympic career, steroid accusation, family, and other lesser-known facts.

Kornelia Ender | Quick Facts

But before that, let’s take a glance at some quick facts about Ender.

Full Name Kornelia Ender
Common Name Kornelia 
Date of Birth October 25, 1958
Place of Birth Plauen, East Germany (now Saxony, Germany)
Nickname Konne
Religion Christianity
Nationality German 
Ethnicity White
Father’s Name Unknown
Mother’s Name Vera Ender
Siblings Unknown
High School Unknown
University Unknown
Zodiac Sign Scorpio
Age 65
Height 5 feet 8 inches (172 cm)
Weight 59 kg (130 lbs)
Eye color Black
Hair color Blonde
Build Athletic
Body Type Hourglass
Marital Status Married Twice
Ex-Husband Ronald Mathes (Married from 1978-1982)
Husband Steffen Grummt (Married since 1984)
Children 2 Daughters (One from the first marriage and another from the second marriage)
Profession Former Professional Swimmer 
Affiliation East Germany Olympics Swimming Team, SV Halle
Active Year  1972-1976
Olympic Debut 1972 (at the age of 13)
National Team East Germany
Favorite Stroke Butterfly, Freestyle, Medley
  • 1972 Summer Olympics- 3 Silvers
  • 1976 Montreal Olympics- 4 Gold Medals and 1 Silver
Awards and Achievements
  • Swimmer of the Year (3 Times)
  • European Swimmer of the Year (3 Times)
  • Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (1981)
Net Worth $1.5 Million
Residence Schornsheim, Southwest Germany
Hobbies Swimming
Social Handle Not Active
Merch Sportscaster Card
Last Update May, 2024

Kornelia Ender | Early Life

On October 25, 1958, Kornelia was born in Plauen, East Germany. Her mother’s name was Vera Ender, whereas her Father’s name is not disclosed.

Native to her homeland, Germany, Kornelia was an army officer and a nurse. She was a naturally talented swimmer from an early age.

At the age of six, the prodigy child left the house to attend Halle’s Chemie Club training center. In the training center, she used to swim seven miles a day and train so hard under the supervision of some of the best coaches and a team physician.

Kornelia Ender as a Young
Kornelia Ender as a Young-in.

As per encyclopedia.com, the coaches would give cocktails with vitamins to her after every workout. But, recalling old days, Ender said she and her friends were unknown of what they were drinking.

She recalled memories and mentioned that Sports officials never talked to the swimmers about anything.

Ender, aged ten, was chosen as one of the faster women sprint swimmers around the globe by a state talent scout.

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Kornelia Ender | Age, Height, and Weight

Ender was born on October 25, 1958, making her 65 years old. Her zodiac sign is Scorpio.

She stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs around155 pounds. She has an athletic hourglass body.

Kornelia Ender | Professional Career

1972 Munich Olympic Games

At the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, thirteen-year-old Kornelia earned two silver medals in relay swimming. In addition to that, she won second place in the 200-meter medley.

After the 1972 Olympics and complex practices, Ender’s butterfly and freestyle sprints skills were so sharpened that no one could beat her skills.

1976 Olympic Montreal

At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Ender played a crucial role in East Germany’s success.

She earned gold in 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle sprints, the 100-meter butterfly, and the 400-meter medley relay anchoring.

The seventeen-year-old Kornelia not only broke a world record in each event but swam two of the individual events—the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter freestyle.

She was the substitute for Barbara Krause in the freestyle.

Kornelia Ender (in the middle) waved to fans after receiving a gold medal at Montreal Olympic Games in 1976
Kornelia Ender (in the middle) waved to fans after receiving a gold medal at Montreal Olympic Games in 1976.

According to Times Magazine, the elite swimmer Ender was already three feet ahead before starting swimming because of the force she was exploding from the starting block.

To talk about her swimming style, she dived shallow and planes high like a speedboat with much of her body floating out of the water.

The most exciting technique of her swimming was her motion. Her motions were so efficient that she would set world records despite making fewer strokes per minute than her competitors.

Along with four golds, she took silver for the 100-meter relay freestyle. In the 1976 Olympics, Kornelia and Babashoff were the only women to win five medals in swimming in a single Olympic Games.

Kornelia Ender | World Swimmer of the Year

The perfectly fit athlete, Kornelia was World Swimmer of the Year in 1973 and 1975, winning four gold medals in both World Championships.

A Sports Illustrated reporter once described the outstanding swimmer, Kornelia, as “propelling herself into the water with such authority as to give the impression that she was pulling the pool toward her.

Also, she was named German Sportswoman of the Year from 1973-76 and was chosen European Sportswoman of the Year in 1973 and 1975.

However, Kornelia’s award for “World Swimmer of the Year” was returned due to a positive test for steroid use.

Swimming World Magazine deprived Ender of her awards from 1973, 1975, and 1976. So, even though Ender herself was a victim of the doping scandal, she still got stripped of her medals.

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Kornelia Ender | Retirement

Against the wishes of Ender’s coaches, she retired from swimming after the 1976 Olympics. Unfortunately, her retirement decision ended her career when she could become a hero in East Germany because of her achievements.

In 1977, Kornelia Ender refused to take Turinabol; as a result, she was banned from the national team by Manfred Ewald. Before retirement, Ender had already broken 23 world records during her career.

After reunifying former East German officials, they finally admitted that they had given doping nearly to all their swimmers, including Ender.

After the 1976 Olympics, Ender and her teammates were accused of using illegal performance-enhancing steroids.

Kornelia Ender is aging good.
Kornelia Ender is aging good.

On the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ender disclosed that in 1989, she tried to escape to the West through Hungary, but the authorities did not allow it and brought Ender and her family back.

Later, there was news that Ender’s father had informed the authorities of her attempts to escape to the West and discover a new life.


After retirement, Kornelia successfully established herself as a physiotherapist and has been serving since 1984. Nowadays, she lives in Schornheim, a village in southwest Germany.

Motivational Speaker

Kornelia is one of the most influential and robust lady athletes to date. 

As a motivational speaker, she shares her challenges, ups, and downs, hoping that no one will make the mistakes she once made.

Kornelia Ender | Marriage

Roland Matthes

Kornelia married fellow teammate Roland Matthes who was a four-time Olympic backstroke champion.

Sadly, her marriage to fellow swimmer Roland Matthes ended in divorce.

Roland Matthes with his teammates at the 1973 Swimming World championship. (Angela Franke, Roland Matthes, Kornelia Ender and Ulrike Richter from left)
Roland Matthes with his teammates at the 1973 Swimming World championship. (Angela Franke, Roland Matthes, Kornelia Ender and Ulrike Richter from left)

The marriage lasted four years, and it was described as the world’s fastest marriage. They also share a daughter, Francesca. 

To add up, Roland Matthes won the 100 and 200-meter backstroke at the 1968 and 1972 Games, making him the most successful of all Olympic backstroke swimmers.

Steffen Grummt

In 1984, Kornelia married Steffen Grummt and was blessed with a daughter. After marriage, she and her husband tried to apply for an emigration visa.

Finally, in 1989, Kornelia and her family settled in West Germany.

Steffen Grummt was a decathlete who placed fourth at the 1982 European Championships and was ranked fourth globally. After getting married, he became head of the sports school in Mainz.

Truth Revealed Regarding Steroid Use

In 1991, some East German coaches admitted that some women swimmers were given steroids, although Kornelia Ender‘s name was not explicitly mentioned.

In one interview, Kornelia spoke regarding steroid use and revealed that her coaches gave her performance-enhancing drugs, but she was unaware during that time.

When Ender won four gold medals in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, she was 18. Besides eight gold medals, she earned eight world titles, four other Olympic medals, and four European titles.

The Truth

Ender used to practice hard at the Child and Youth Sports School, two hours of water work twice a day and one hour of land workout every day. And she and her other mates were given an above-average lifestyle.

Again talking about the use of drugs, Kornelia said there was no mention of drugs, but the students might have been given illegal substances in food and drink. 

However, in 1975, the pressure for success grew, and the focus was only to win Olympic Games. She remembered being given injections during training and competition, but it was explained as substances to help regenerate and recuperate.

According to Kornelia Ender, all these substance usage incidents make her sad. She felt like she was a real loser.

It is easy for coaches to reveal the truth, but the blame game still goes on, and every mistake is pointed out to athletes, not them.

Kornelia Ender | Net Worth

Ender is a famous Swimmer whose estimated net worth is around $1.5 million.

The central part of her wealth comes from winning games and Olympic gold medals. In addition, when Ender was at the peak of her career, she got many endorsement deals which added to her wealth.

After retirement, she switched her profession to Physiotherapist and motivational speaker, from which also she made good money. Explore more about her net worth and lifestyle

Kornelia Ender | Social Media Presence

Ender is regarded as one of the most excellent swimmers of all time. Despite this, she leads a quiet life.

Unfortunately, she is not present on any social media platforms. Instead, she is happy with her quiet life away from the limelight.

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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Who is Kornelia Ender’s Father?

Ender’s Father was a military person, according to some online sources. However, his name and other personal information are not disclosed.

Reportedly, it is said that Kornelia ran away from home at the age of thirteen because of her Father’s strict rules.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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