The FIL has paid tribute to Margit Schumann ©FIL

The International Luge Federation (FIL) has paid tribute to former Olympic champion Margit Schumann, who has died at the age of 64.

Germany's Schumann, who won her Olympic gold at the 1976 Games in Innsbruck in Austria, passed away in Oberhof, home to one of the country's premier sliding tracks.

Schumann was also a four-time world champion and is one of only two female lugers to be a member of the FIL's Hall of Fame.

She was inducted in 2003 with Russian Vera Zozulya the only other slider to possess the honour.

Schumann also won Olympic bronze in 1972 in Sapporo in Japan with her world titles arriving in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1977.

No female luger had won more singles world titles until Tatjana Hüfner, another German, captured her fifth in Innsbruck this year.

Margit Schumann won the Olympic title in 1972 ©FIL
Margit Schumann won the Olympic title in 1972 ©FIL

At the European Championships, Schumann won three gold medals as well as a silver and a bronze.

After retirement she turned to coaching and later worked for the German armed forces.

She was married to the FIL's press officer Harro Esmarch, with their wedding in Berchtesgaden in 2005 officiated by FIL President Josef Fendt.

"The International Luge Federation is mourning the death of Margit Schumann," a statement said.

"In the 1970s, Margit Schumann was the athlete to beat in the women's luge event."