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Olga Korbut

A Worldwide Favorite

For gymnastics' newest star, life would not be the same. She toured the United States and Europe, meeting everyone from the British Prime Minister to Mickey Mouse. In one notable encounter, Korbut met a stranger who greeted her by saying, "You're so tiny." "You're so big," she replied to President Richard Nixon. At the same time, Korbut felt the pressure of compliance with the Soviet government, who put the teenager into exhibition after exhibition to feed their financial coffers and to show the world, as she told the PBS interviewer, that the "former Soviet Union is the best." From 1972 to 1976, she added, "I wasn't at home. I was always being somewhere in different countries." She knew, as Korbut told same interviewer, that the Soviet secret service, the KGB, trailed her during those years.

"Athlete of the Year" honors came Korbut's way, and she continued to compete. In 1973 she was second allaround to Turischeva at the European Championships; she won the all-around title at the World University Games in Moscow. Over the next two years she continued to pursue Turischeva in national and international meets, but finished second all-around.

In 1976 Korbut again represented the Soviet Union at the Olympic summer games in Montreal, Quebec. Now twenty-one, Korbut saw firsthand the legacy of her Munich triumph in the form of young, bold, highly athletic competitors. Chief among them was Romania's Nadia Comaneci, who would go on to make history as Korbut had four years earlier. Plagued by uncharacteristic poor performance, Korbut won just one medal in the competition, a silver for the balance beam. Though her smile never faded, Korbut was eclipsed in the public eye by Comaneci, a fourteen-year-old phenom who posted gymnastics' first perfect "tens."

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Famous Sports StarsGymnasticsOlga Korbut Biography - Talent Shows Early, Raising The Bar In Gymnastics, A Worldwide Favorite, Athlete Turns Activist - CONTACT INFORMATION