How Olga Korbut Inspired a Generation of Gymnasts | The Olympics On The Record

Gymnastics now, and, first up,Tourischeva of the Soviet
Ludmilla Tourischeva led the
Soviet Union
to the team event gold medalat the 1972 Olympic Games
in Munich.
She would then go on to win
gold in the prestigious
overall individual discipline.At 20 years old,
Tourischeva held world,
Olympic and European titles all
at the same time,
and she ended her career with
nine Olympic medals,
including four of the most
precious metal.
She was a serene performer,
consistently brilliant
and a popular team leader of
the Soviet gymnastics team.
So why was the 1972 gymnastics
competition best remembered
not for the performance of
but for the emergenceof her 17-year-old team-mate,
the girl who finished seventh?
Nicknamed the Sparrow,the little Olga Korbutwas a promising star of Soviet
She caught the eyefrom her very first appearance
in Munich.
She had been training
relentlessly from the age of 12
back home in Minsk,
in modern-day Belarus.
Alongside Tourischeva,Korbut helped the Soviet Union
win gold
in the team event.By the start of the individual
all-round competition,
all eyes were on Korbut.There was
no social media in those days,
but it would be true to saythat Korbut phenomenon
went viral.
Imagine a world without
social media!
People actually talking to
each other.
Nelly.Nelly!Watching on colour TV for the
first time,
people around the worldstopped what they were doingto watch this tiny girl
from Minsk.
After the vault and floor
Korbut was in third place.She was in serious contention
to win a medal.
Next up, the uneven bars.Two parallel bars set at
different heights
with gymnasts soaring
and swinging from bar to bar.
It requires control.The judges looking for
technique and composition.Deductions are made for errors,
pauses and steps on dismount.
Up until then, the uneven barshad been Korbut’s strongest
but not that day in Munich.From the beginning,
her routine went badly wrong.
Korbut was heavily marked down,a score of 7.5 effectively
ended her medal chances.
The tears were seen as a very
public display of emotion
and it helped make her
a household name.
Tears. Yep. That will work.Make sure you click likeand subscribe to my YouTube
Tourischeva won the overall
gold medal she deserved.
It was said of her she could
perform on a battlefield.
It was Korbut however who won
people’s hearts,
and she had the support of
when it came to
the individual events.
On the balance beam,she pulled off a stunt no-one
had ever seen before
in international competition.It was a sensational
performance and it won her gold
in that discipline.Korbut followed it up with an
extraordinary display
on the floor.A second gold.On the uneven bars,she made mistakes in the
qualification round,
but made it through to the
and it was now that she pulled
off her boldest manoeuvre yet.
No gymnast had ever scored
a perfect ten before,
but surely this sensational
performance had earned it.
The judges thought not
and awarded Korbut 9.8.
Spectators thought there had
been a huge mistake.
The judges stuck to their
It was still enough to give
Korbut a silver medal.
The audacious backwards
became known as the
Korbut Flip.
But in 2009, the move was
You will never see this done at
the Olympic Games.
It was just too dangerous.Thankfully, the Flip was
not Korbut’s only legacy.
She quickly became a role model
for young gymnasts.
In Britain alone, some 2.5
million took up the sport,
a pattern repeated
all over the world.
The Korbut phenomenon
the power of the Olympic Games,
or, in this case,
a young girl from Minsk to grab
the attention of the globe.

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