Antje Harvey: Mormon Athlete
Antje Misersky Harvey is an Olympic biathlete and gold medalist who was inducted into the German Sports Hall of Fame in May 2012. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Antje was born on May 10, 1967, in Magdeburg, East Germany. She grew up cross-country skiing, running track, and competing in gymnastics. When she was 12, she started specializing in her passion and talent, cross-country skiing. She attended a child and youth sport school when she was 14. At the age of 16 she participated in the Junior World Championships in Norway and finished third in the relay and 10th in the 5 km.
As part of the national team, she went to Sweden for the next season. Team training coaches ordered her and her teammates to take a steroid pill each night to help improve their performance. Antje knew the effects the drug would have on her body and believed taking the pill would be cheating the sport. She refused to take them, and she was pressured to quit the sport. Antje and her family were targeted for standing up to the government.
In 1989, the same year the Berlin Wall fell, the German Ski Federation asked her if she would be interested in participating in a new women’s biathlon program for the 1992 Olympics. During those games, held in Albertville, France, Antje won a gold medal in the 15 km women’s biathlon, a silver in the 3x7.5 km relay, and a silver in the 7.5 km women’s sprint.
During her interviews, Antje and her father criticized the German ski federation and explained their practice of doping and blacklisting. Antje received positive and negative letters, including three death threats if Antje and her father continued to expose the practices of the earlier East German sports team. (Her father, Henrich Misersky, was a coach with a ski club in East Germany who was fired for his stand against doping his daughter and other athletes.) That year she became unpopular in East Germany but revered in the rest of Germany and Europe for her character and courage. She placed ninth in the prestigious German athlete of the year award poll.
Antje met her husband, Ian Harvey, while competing in biathlon. He was a biathlete from the United States. They married in 1993 and moved to the U.S. Antje became an American citizen in 2000.
Antje competed again in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer and won a silver medal in the 4x7.5 km relay. She retired from ski racing and biathlon after winning gold in the World Championship relay in 1995.
When Antje was suffering with hyperthyroidism after her second child was born, a neighbor encouraged her by teaching her about the atonement of Jesus Christ. She was touched by her neighbor’s kindness, and Antje and Ian read the Book of Mormon, were taught by the missionaries, and joined the Church.
Antje received the Heidi Krieger Medal in 1995 for her refusal to take part in the systematic doping in the GDR. Her induction into the German Sports Hall of Fame noted her integrity. At the same ceremony, two other athletes who triumphed over some test of character within their sport were also honored.
Harvey lives in Heber City, Utah, with her husband and two daughters.