Larissa Latynina
Larisa Semyonovna Latynina ' onMouseout='HidePop("94735")' href="/topics/Kherson">Kherson
Kherson is a city in southern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Kherson Oblast , and is designated as its own separate raion within the oblast. Kherson is an important port on the Black Sea and Dnieper River, and the home of a major ship-building industry...

, Ukrainian SSR
Ukrainian SSR
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or in short, the Ukrainian SSR was a sovereign Soviet Socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union lasting from its inception in 1922 to the breakup in 1991...

) is a Russian-Ukrainian and former Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

Gymnastics is a sport involving performance of exercises requiring physical strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. Internationally, all of the gymnastic sports are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique with each country having its own national governing body...

  who was the only female athlete to win nine Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 gold medal
Gold medal
A gold medal is typically the medal awarded for highest achievement in a non-military field. Its name derives from the use of at least a fraction of gold in form of plating or alloying in its manufacture...

s. She holds 18 total medals, more Olympic medals than any other competitor in any sport, and was responsible for establishing the Soviet Union as the dominant force in gymnastics. She also holds the record for most individual medals (14 outside of team events) in Olympic history.

Early life

Born Larisa Semyonovna Diriy (Лариса Семёновна Дирий), she first practiced ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

, but turned to gymnastics after her choreographer moved out of town. She graduated from high school in 1953 and moved to Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 to attend the Lenin Polytechnic Institute and continue training. There Latynina trained at the Burevestnik Voluntary Sports Society. At the age of 19, she debuted internationally at the 1954 Rome World Championships
1954 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
The 13th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships were held in Rome, the capital of Italy, on June 28 - July 1, 1954.-Medals:- All-around :- Floor exercise :- Pommel horse :- Rings :- Vault :- Parallel bars :- Horizontal bar :...

, winning the gold medal in the team competition.

Gymnastics career

At the 1956 Summer Olympics
1956 Summer Olympics
The 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956, with the exception of the equestrian events, which could not be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations...

, she competed with Ágnes Keleti
Ágnes Keleti
Ágnes Keleti is a retired Hungarian artistic gymnast. The winner of 10 Olympic medals including five gold medals, she is considered to be one of the most successful Jewish Olympic athletes of all time. She was the most successful athlete at the 1956 Summer Olympics.-Career:Keleti is Jewish, and...

 of Hungary to become the most successful gymnast of the Olympics. Latynina beat Keleti in the all-around event, and the Soviet team also won the team event. In the event finals, Latynina won gold medals on the floor (shared with Keleti) and vault, a silver medal on the uneven bars, and a bronze medal in the now discontinued team event with portable apparatus. Keleti also won six medals: four golds and two silvers.

After a very successful World Championships
1958 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
The 14th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships were held on July 6–10 1958 in Moscow, the capital of the USSR.-Medals:-All-around:- Floor exercise :-Pommel horse:-Rings:-Vault:-Parallel bars:-Horizontal bar:-Team final:-All-around:...

 in 1958 (winning five out of six titles despite competing whilst pregnant), Latynina was the favorite for the 1960 Summer Olympics
1960 Summer Olympics
The 1960 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held from August 25 to September 11, 1960 in Rome, Italy...

 in Rome. In the all-around event she led the Soviet Union to take the first four places, thereby also securing a win in the team competition by a margin of nine points. Latynina also successfully defended her floor title, took silver medals in the balance beam and uneven bars events, and bronze in the vault competition.

Latynina won all-around titles at the 1962 World Championships
1962 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
The 15th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships were held on July 3–8, 1962 in Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia.- Men’s events :- Women's events :- Medal table :-References:*...

, beating Věra Čáslavská
Vera Cáslavská
Věra Čáslavská is a Czech gymnast. Blonde, cheerful and possessing impressive stage presence, she was generally popular with the public and won a total of 22 international titles...

 of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. Still the defending World Champion at the 1964 Summer Olympics
1964 Summer Olympics
The 1964 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVIII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. Tokyo had been awarded with the organization of the 1940 Summer Olympics, but this honor was subsequently passed to Helsinki because of Japan's...

, she was beaten by Čáslavská in the all-around competition. Latynina did however add two more gold medals to her tally, winning the team event and the floor event both for the third time in a row. A silver medal and two bronzes in the other apparatus events brought her total of Olympic medals to eighteen — nine gold medals, five silver and four bronze. She won a medal in every event in which she competed, except for the 1956 balance beam where she came fourth. Her nine gold medals makes her second on the list of most Olympic gold medalists together with Mark Spitz
Mark Spitz
Mark Andrew Spitz is a retired American swimmer. He won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, an achievement only surpassed by Michael Phelps who won eight golds at the 2008 Olympics....

, Carl Lewis
Carl Lewis
Frederick Carlton "Carl" Lewis is an American former track and field athlete, who won 10 Olympic medals including 9 gold, and 10 World Championships medals, of which 8 were gold. His career spanned from 1979 when he first achieved a world ranking to 1996 when he last won an Olympic title and...

 and Paavo Nurmi
Paavo Nurmi
Paavo Johannes Nurmi was a Finnish runner. Born in Turku, he was known as one of the "Flying Finns," a term given to him, Hannes Kolehmainen, Ville Ritola, and others for their distinction in running...

, only behind Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps
Michael Fred Phelps is an American swimmer who has, overall, won 16 Olympic medals—six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and eight gold at Beijing in 2008, becoming the most successful athlete at both of these Olympic Games editions...

, who has 14; she held the distinction of having more Olympic gold medals (either individually or with a team) than anybody ever, from 1964 to 2008, until Michael Phelps beat her record. She is the only woman to have won nine gold medals. She is also the only female athlete who at some point has held the record for most Olympic gold medals. Additionally, within the sport of gymnastics, she is the only woman who has won an all-around medal in more than 2 Olympiads and the only woman who has won an individual event (Floor Exercise) in more than 2 Olympiads (1956, 1960, and 1964 for both of those accomplishments), one of only three women who have won every individual event at either the world or olympic level in every individual event, and she holds many other such distinguishing records.


Latynina retired after the 1966 World Championships
1966 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
The 16th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships were held in Dortmund, West Germany, in 1966.-Medals:-All-around:-Team final:- Floor exercise :-Pommel horse:-Rings:-Vault:-Parallel bars:-Horizontal bar:-All-around:- Vault :...

 and became a coach for the Soviet national gymnastics team, a position she held until 1977. She organized the gymnastics competition at the 1980 Olympic Games
1980 Summer Olympics
The 1980 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event celebrated in Moscow in the Soviet Union. In addition, the yachting events were held in Tallinn, and some of the preliminary matches and the quarter-finals of the football tournament...

 in Moscow, and around the year 2000 appeared in the "Soviet Sports Wars" episode of the PBS documentary The Red Files, discussing her experiences as a gymnast and Soviet coach.

She is a citizen of Russia, and lives in her estate near the town Semenovskoye, Moscow region.

Awards and honors

1989: Olympic Order (silver), International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

1998: Inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
International Gymnastics Hall of Fame
The International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, located in Oklahoma City, USA, is a hall of fame dedicated to honoring the achievements and contributions of the world's greatest competitors, coaches and authorities in artistic gymnastics....

Year Championship Medals and Disciplines
1954 World Championship 1 gold medal (Teams)
1956 Melbourne Olympic Games 4 gold medals (All-Around, Teams, Floor Exercise and Vault)
1 silver medal (Bars)
1 bronze medal (Object Exercise)
1957 European Championship 5 gold medals (All-Around, Vault, Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise)
1958 World Championship 5 gold medals (Teams, All-Around, Vault, Bars and Balance Beam)
1 silver medal(Floor Exercise)
1960 Rome Olympic Games 3 gold medals (All-Around, Teams and Floor Exercise)
2 silver medals (Bars and Balance Beam)
1 bronze medal (Vault)
1961 European Championship 2 gold medals (All-Around and Floor Exercise)
2 silver medals (Bars and Balance Beam)
1962 World Championship 3 gold medals (Teams, All-Around and Floor Exercise)
2 silver medals (Vault and Balance Beam)
1 bronze medal (Bars)
1964 Tokyo Olympic Games 2 gold medals (Teams and Floor Exercise),
2 silver medals (All-Around and Vault)
2 bronze medals (Bars and Balance Beam)
1965 European Championship 4 silver medals (All-Around, Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise)
1 bronze medal (Vault)
1966 World Championship 1 silver medal (Teams)

See also

External links

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