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Larisa Latynina

1964 Olympics

At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Latynina won gold medals in floor exercises and team competition; silver medals in all-around and vault; and bronze medals in un-even bars and beam. In an article in the London Times, a reporter commented that because Latynina was twenty-nine at the time, her career might be winding to a close, and "we may never see her like again…. But at such moments as she gave us this evening, hope springs eternal."

At the European championships in 1965, Latynina won four silver medals, in all-around, uneven bars, beam, and floor exercises, and a bronze medal in vault.

Latynina's daughter Tanya expressed no interest in following in her mother's footsteps. Tanya's father, Ivan Latynin, told Maryamov that he was grateful for this: "One gymnast in the family is quite enough! I'm a nervous wreck every time Larisa competes." He said that when she competed on beam, he had to either close his eyes or leave the venue.

Latynina's coach, Alexander Mishakov, told Maryamov, "It's a pleasure to work with Latynina because she demands so much of herself." He noted that Latynina filled every moment she had with activities. At the time, she was doing graduate work at the Kiev Physical Training Institute, and had been elected to the Kiev City Soviet for five years in a row. In addition to these duties and her intense gymnastics training routine, she found time for the theater, movies, fishing, dancing, getting together with friends, and spending time with her husband and daughter. Part of her intense activity was a result of the Soviet system of training athletes: athletes received many privileges in the Soviet system, but they were then obligated to serve their government by giving lectures and undertaking public service. Latynina's stint in the Kiev City government was part of this obligatory service.

Maryamov asked Latynina if she had a favorite medal, and Latynina replied, "The small gold medal I was awarded in 1953 for graduating from school with honors." Latynina also noted that in addition to gymnastics, she enjoyed reading poetry, listening to classical music and jazz, and watching theater and ballet. She told Maryamov, "I'd say they all help in my gymnastics work. I suspect that without them I'd be less of a gymnast."

Chronology

1934 Born December 27, in Kherson, Ukraine, Soviet Union
1953 Graduates from high school with honors
1954 Comes in 14th at World Championships
1956 Wins four gold medals and one silver at Olympic games in Melbourne, Australia
1957 Wins European Championship gold medals in all-around, vault, uneven bars, beam, and floor exercises
1957 Receives Order of Lenin
1958 Wins World Championship gold medals in team competition, all-around, floor exercises, uneven bars, and beam; wins silver in vault
1958 Gives birth to her daughter, Tanya
1959 Graduates from Kiev Institute of Physical Culture
1960 Wins two gold medals, two silver medals, and a bronze medal in Olympic games
1960 Receives Soviet Badge of Honor
1961 Wins European Championship gold medals in all-around and floor exercises; silver medals in uneven bars and beam; comes in fourth in vault
1962 Wins World Championship gold medals in team, all-around, and floor exercises; wins silver in vault and beam; wins bronze in uneven bars
1963 Begins graduate study at the Kiev Physical Training Institute
1964 Wins two gold medals, two silver medals, and two bronze medals at Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan
1964 At USSR Championships, wins silver medal in all-around
1965 At European Championships, wins silver medals in all-around, uneven bars, beam, and floor exercises; bronze medal in vault
1966 At USSR cup, comes in fifth in all-around
1966 At USSR World Trials, comes in sixth in all-around
1966 At World Championships, wins silver in team competition; comes in eleventh in all-around
1966-77 Coaches USSR international women's team
1972 Becomes honorary coach of the USSR
1977 Member of Organizational Committee, 1980 Olympics
1998 Inducted into International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
2002 Receives Ukrainian Star Award

Awards and Accomplishments

1956 Olympic gold medals in team competition, all-around, vault, floor exercises; silver medal in uneven bars
1957 European Championship gold medals in all-around, vault, uneven bars, beam, and floor exercises
1957 Order of Lenin
1958 World Championship gold medals in team competition, all-around, floor exercises, uneven bars, and beam; silver in vault
1960 Olympic gold medals in team competition and all-around; silver in uneven bars and beam; wins bronze in vault
1960 Soviet Badge of Honor
1961 European Championship gold medals in all-around and floor exercises; silver medals in uneven bars and beam
1961 USA-USSR meet gold medal in team and all-around
1962 World Championship gold medals in team, all-around, and floor exercises; silver in vault and beam; bronze in uneven bars
1964 Olympic gold medal in team competition and floor exercises; silver medal in all-around and vault; bronze medal in uneven bars and beam
1964 Sweden-USSR meet gold medal in team competition
1964 USSR Championships silver medal in all-around
1965 European Championships silver medals in all-around, uneven bars, beam, and floor exercises; bronze medal in vault
1966 World Championships silver in team competition
1998 International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
2002 Ukrainian Star Award

Knowing that she could not continue competing forever, Latynina began planning a career shift, from competing to coaching. By 1964, her first protégé, Tanya Palamarchuk, had already won a Master of Sports rating. In addition to coaching, Latynina often spoke, hoping to popularize the sport among young people. "It's the sport closest to the arts that we have," she told Maryamov.

At the 1966 World Championships, she placed 11th all-around. She retired from competition after this event.

From 1966 to 1977, Latynina was a Soviet national team coach, and from 1977 on, coached a local team in Moscow. She was director of gymnastics for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and was honored with the Olympic Order from the International Olympic Committee in 1989.

Latynina has been married three times. She lives with her current husband, Yuri Israilevich Feldman, a former cycling champion, in Kolyanino, near Moscow. She is still revered as a national sports hero in the former Soviet Union, particularly in Ukraine, and often attends gymnastics competitions in Moscow. In 2002 she was honored with a Ukrainian Star Award.

In 1998, Latynina was named to the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. She was also honored in 2000, when a path in the Sydney Olympic Village was named "Larisa Latynina Way" in her honor.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsGymnasticsLarisa Latynina Biography - An Orphan Seeking Beauty, Becomes A Gymnastics Superstar, 1964 Olympics, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - SELECTED WRITINGS BY LATYNINA: