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#swisshistorypics Former military sports school still on track after 75 years

It’s the 75th birthday of the Federal Sports School in Magglingen, high above Lake Biel, where countless Swiss sports talents have been forged into champions.

But in 1942 the Federal Council were after a slightly different goal when they founded the Swiss Federal Gymnastics and Sports School: to make young Swiss men fit for military service by providing a so-called foundation course. 

In the same year, the government also passed a resolution to this effect, after which it took some time to determine the structure of the training and the location of the school. In 1944, the school was officially founded. 

And today, the sports school at Magglingen produces a range of high-achieving athletes, far from its army beginnings.

Both the Federal Office for Sport and the Federal Sports School overlook the magnificent vista of Lake Biel and its surrounding landscape, 900 metres above the city of Biel. The clean air is perfect for practising various sporting disciplines and (maybe) preparing to join the ranks of Olympic champions. 

Olympic champions of the past and present

Roger Federer’s former trainer Pierre Paganini received his sports teaching diploma here. But for more than a decade it has been known as a sort of finishing school for up-and-coming elite athletes. 

Among the star-studded cast of former students are Dario Cologna, a four-times Olympic gold medallist in cross-country skiing, Nordic combined skier Hippolyt Kempf, who has a complete set of Olympic medals, and World and European Champion shot putter Werner Günthör.

Olympic champions coming out of Magglingen

Jack Günthard, gymnast and sports teacher, Olympic champion, "Gymnast of the Nation".

Werner Günthör, shotputter, World and European Champion

Hippolyt Kempf, Olympic Champion Nordic Combined

Dario Cologna, Olympic cross-country ski champion

Nino Schurter, Olympic Champion and World Champion Mountain Bike

Swiss wrestling 'Kings' Matthias Sempach, Kilian Wenger, Matthias Glarner

Giulia Steingruber, Olympic bronze and several world championship medals in gymnastics

Patrizia Kummer, Olympic Champion Snowboard

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In our series #swisshistorypicsexternal link we travel back in time to look at photographs which document past life and culture in Switzerland.

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