About Nikolaus Anton Merkens
Nikolaus Anton "Toni" Merkens was a racing cyclist from Germany and Olympic champion.
He was born in the Eigelstein quarter of Cologne, where he grew up with three brothers and a sister at No. 20 Im Stavenhof, a small, narrow street.
He represented his native country at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, where he received the gold medal in the men's 1000m match sprint event.
Merkens trained as a bicycle mechanic with Fritz Köthke.
In 1933 he won his first German championship in sprint.
In 1934, he repeated this success and won the British Open Championships and the Grand Prix de Paris. He finished fourth at the World Championships.
In 1935 he won the championships in Germany a well as the UK and the Paris Grand Prix. At the World Championships in Brussels, he won the title in the final against Dutch cyclist Arie van Vliet 2-1.
During the first race of the 1936 Olympic final, Merkens clearly interfered with Arie van Vliet, but no foul was called by the officials. Van Vliet also lost the second race of the final and received the silver medal. After a protest by the Dutch team, Merkens, rather than being disqualified, was fined 100 marks.
Merkens turned professional after the 1936 Olympics.
In 1937 and 1939, he was German Vice Champion in the sprint.
In 1940 he was the German champion in stayers, and was Vice Champion in 1941.
In 1942 he won the German professional championship in the sprint and was Vice Champion in the stayers.
Merkens was drafted into the army in 1942 and was killed in World War II fighting the Soviets on the Eastern Front. He was struck between the heart and lungs by a shell splinter, and died in a hospital in Wildbad after becoming ill with meningitis.
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