Schalke's athletics section has had many glittering moments in its long and distinguished history. The biggest success to date was Frank Busemann's silver medal in the decathlon at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The Royal Blues enjoyed their best period in the 1960s when sprinter Erika Pollmann (later Erika Rost) became German champion over 200 metres in 1964 and repeated the feat over both 100 and 200 metres a year later.

Pollmann also played a prominent role at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, when she was just 20 years of age. Other Schalke athletes to compete at the Olympics besides Pollmann and Busemann (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000) were shot putter Gertrud Schäfer (Mexico City 1968) and sprinter Sebastian Ernst (Athens 2004).